The City of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra’s autumn concert on Sunday, October 15, 3pm-5pm, starts with a specially requested piece – and a consequent change of music
The concert is dedicated to Tony Holland, who is husband of Kate Holland, who plays the oboe for the orchestra. Tony played the trombone for the orchestra and died earlier this year. As a dedication, Kate has chosen Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel overture. Gillian Blair will be the soloist for Glazunov’s saxophone concerto and the concert will conclude with Dvorak’s 9th symphony, ‘From the New World’. The conductor will be Steve Bingham and Liz Taylor will be leader of the strings. As usual the concert will be at the Voyager Academy but, by then, the school will have a new name. From September it is to be known as The Queen Katherine Academy after its decision to join the Thomas Deacon Education Trust. We put questions and answers to saxophonist, Gillian Blair…
Where did you learn to play the saxophone?
I first started playing the saxophone at the age of nine at school. I continued lessons through the (then) Wirral Schools Music Service until the age of 16, when I gained a place to study at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music on Saturdays. After my A-levels I spent a year in London studying at Trinity College of Music, following which I gained a First Class Bachelors degree and a Masters degree with distinction from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. I also studied at ‘l’Université Européenne de Saxophone’ in France during the summer of 2015, where I received tuition from many of the world’s most greatly renowned classical saxophonists including Claude Delangle, Timothy McAllister, Arno Bornkamp, Christian Wirth and Vincent David.
Who inspired you to play?
Whilst at primary school, teachers noticed I was into music, and my elder siblings already played instruments. I was asked to pick any woodwind instrument to start having lessons on. Having examined them all, I wanted to play the bassoon because it was the biggest! I wasn’t quite big enough at the time (although I have learnt the bassoon since then) so the saxophone was the next best thing. I had no idea what a wonderfully versatile instrument it was at the time, but that’s something I’ve come to adore about it. I’ve been really fortunate to have some fantastically inspirational teachers throughout my studies. Whilst at the RNCM I studied with Rob Buckland for five years. Rob is such a brilliant musician and teacher, but he also really pushed me to think of new ways of doing things, and led me towards starting my own interesting projects, many of which form the basis of my career today.
Do you teach?
Yes – I teach privately as well as being the Woodwind tutor at Smithills School in Bolton, and Head of Woodwind at Holy Cross College in Bury. I also teach on two summer schools – Manchester Single Reed, and Harrogate Saxophone Summer School.
What would you be if you were not a saxophone player?
Aside from my passion for music, I also love to bake, so I think I would have my own cafe and I would make different cakes every day. I’m currently working on a project which combines these two passions – it’s a concert called ‘Toot Sweet’ where for each work that I play in the programme, audience members will sample a different baked delight which has been home made by myself to compliment the style of the music.
● City of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra October 15, 3pm Queen Katharine Academy. To book tickets call: 01733 452336 or 01832 274734, or visit www.cpso.org.uk
The concert is sponsored by the V&A Group.
In memory of Tony Holland.