Gilly Blair

Gillian Blair is an award winning Saxophonist from the Wirral. She graduated from the RNCM with a First Class BMus(hons) degree in 2014 and is now studying for her Masters degree at the RNCM under the tutelage of Rob Buckland. Her postgraduate studies are generously supported with scholarships from the Oglesby Charitable Trust, the Helen Mackaness Award and the Countess of Munster Trust. Upon completing her undergraduate degree, she was awarded the Tim Reynish Award for outstanding contribution to the RNCM. During her studies, Gillian has received tuition and appeared in masterclasses with internationally acclaimed artists including Vincent David, Arno Bornkamp, Johan van der Linden and Timothy McAllister, as well as studying at the prestigious 2015 'European University of the Saxophone' in Gap, France.

Gillian has won competitions including the RNCM Solo Woodwind Prize, the 'International Young Musician' Competition at the 2015 Llangollen Eisteddfod, the inaugural Charles Scarratt Award for Young Musicians and the RNCM's Sir John Manduell Prize. She was a finalist in the prestigious RNCM Gold Medal Competition, was highly commended 2013 RNCM Concerto Competition and was a finalist in the 2014 competition. She has received awards from the Rushworth Trust, the EMI Music Sound Foundation and the Loan Fund for Musical Instruments.

Gillian is a member of the Borealis Saxophone Quartet, with whom she has performed regularly throughout the UK including performances at St John’s Smith Square, Kings Place, the Bridgewater Hall and the 2012 BBC Proms Festival which was broadcast on Radio 3. The quartet reached the finals of the 2012 RNCM Concerto Competition and the 2014 Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Competition. They have commissioned and premiered several new saxophone quartets by composers including Gary Carpenter and Tom Harrold, and a concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Strings by Lucy Pankhurst. The quartet won the 2013 Apollo Saxophone Quartet/RNCM Saxophone Ensemble Prize, the 2013/14 June Emerson Launchpad Prize and the 2013 Trevor Wye Memorial Prize.  Following this success, they competed against other prize winning RNCM Ensembles in the Christopher Rowland Chamber Music Prize and were named 'RNCM Ensemble of the Year 2013'. In 2014, the quartet premiered 4 new works by RNCM composers at the RNCM Gold Medal Competition, 2 of which feature on the quartet’s debut album; ‘The North’, which was released in October 2014, following their first international tour to Serbia. The quartet were selected as Park Lane Group Young Artists 2014/15; perfoming at the Royal Festival Hall in November and the Purcell Room in January where they premiered their latest commission; 'Borexino-Borealis' by Darren Bloom.

Gillian has performed with many RNCM ensembles including the Concert, Symphony and Brand New Orchestras and the Big Band. In July 2012, she performed at the World Saxophone Congress with both the RNCM Wind Orchestra and Saxophone Orchestra, as well as recording albums with both groups. She has performed with the European Union Youth Wind Orchestra, the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra and performed, recorded and given workshops with the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra. She is a member of the Tenor Saxophone Collective, a saxophone orchestra made up of internationally reknowned tenor saxophonists including Arno Bornkamp, Andy Scott and Niels Bilj. Gillian has performed as an extra with several professional orchestras including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic's 'SuperOrchestra' and the Orchestra of Opera North.

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