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Get to know the trumpeter who's been crowned Artist of the Year at the 'Oscars of classical music', the Gramophone Awards 2013, with our gallery of interesting facts.
Alison Louise Balsom was born in Hertfordshire on October 7th 1978, and spent her early life in the town of Royston. Her father, Bill, was a builder, while her mother worked to place children with foster families.
She showed very early promise with the trumpet, taking lessons at school and playing in the Royston Town Band. Alison still returns to perform Christmas carols with the band every year.
Things really started to pick up when she was accepted to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She later went on to study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and at the Conservatoire de Paris with trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger.
Balsom's recording career began in earnest in 2002 when she released Music For Trumpet and Organ on EMI Classics. It featured works by Bach, Sweelinck, Purcell and Messiaen, marking Balsom out as an adventurous programmer.
Alison has won no less than three Classic BRIT Awards in her career, most recently the Female Artist award in 2011.
When she arrived at the Classical BRITs in 2009, Alison was wearing over £1m worth of diamonds, borrowed from swanky celeb jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels.
In 2013, Balsom put on a stunning historical show at the Globe Theatre on London's South Bank. Featuring the music of Purcell and the text of The Fairy-Queen, she collaborated with actors and members of the English Concert.
Alison marked 10 years in the classical music industry by heading back into the studio. She's recorded her 10 year compilation album, The Sound of Alison Balsom, to celebrate the momentous anniversary.
She's also a huge star across Europe, winning the Instrumentalist of the Year at the Echo Klassik awards in Germany in 2012.
When she discovered there was nowhere to practise at the airport, Alison took to a disused building site at the airport so she could blast out some tunes. Picture: Twitter
As well as winning Gramophone Artist of the Year in 2013, Alison was awarded the PPL Classical Award by musical charity Nordoff Robbins. "As a musician, I can't think of a more valuable thing for me to do than to help highlight the constant need for a charity such as Nordoff Robbins," she said.
Alison is also a huge fan of yachting, and even took part in the 607-mile Rolex Fastnet Race in 2009.
Despite releasing 11 albums and working with some of the world's best orchestras, Alison's gender is still a talking point, and she's become something of an advocate for female brass musicians. "I remember talking to women brass players a generation older than me and being shocked at the stories they told of sexism they had encountered," she said, in an interview with The Times.
The trumpeter made her radio presenting debut on Classic FM in early 2013 with Lucy Coward, showcasing some of her favourite tunes by Purcell, and discussing the motivation behind Gabriel, her show at the Globe Theatre.
2013 saw Alison Balsom brave the muddy hoards of the Latitude Festival, taking to the stage for the Sunday afternoon slot previously filled by pianist Lang Lang.