Who is Jess Gillam, the saxophonist? Recordings, age, concerts and social media

25 September 2020, 09:06 | Updated: 27 October 2020, 11:58

Saxophonist Jess Gillam
Saxophonist Jess Gillam. Picture: Robin Clewley

Jess Gillam is a 22-year-old saxophonist, known for being one of the most exciting emerging artists in classical music. From her concerts and recordings to her Instagram handle, here’s everything you need to know.

Jess Gillam, 22, is a saxophonist and rising star in the classical music world.

In 2018, she was the recipient of a Classic Brit Award in the Sound of Classical Poll, which recognises the best emerging artists in classical music. She was also the first-ever saxophonist to reach the final of Young Musician of the Year.

She records exclusively for Decca Classics, and released her debut album, Rise, with the record label in 2019.

Why is there no saxophone in the orchestra? Jess Gillam explains >

Jess Gillam introduces her new album, ‘Time’

Jess Gillam’s recordings

Jess’s discography includes three albums – the saxophonist’s debut studio recording, Rise, and Jess Gillam At Christmas, both released in 2019. And Time, which is her second studio album, released on 25 September 2020.

Time explores the cycle of time, around the passage of just one day. A lot of the music is brand new, or new arrangements of existing pieces, which gives it a fresh, contemporary feel. Watch Jess’s performance of ‘Orbit’ by Will Gregory from the album below.

Another track on the album is a beautiful new arrangement for saxophone of Thom Yorke’s ‘Suspirium’ from the 2018 horror Suspiria.

Jess Gillam - Orbit (Will Gregory)

Where did Jess study saxophone?

Jess studies at Guildhall School of Music & Drama with an ABRSM scholarship, and is mentored by respected saxophonist and composer John Harle.

Jess is a keen endorser of the saxophone; at just 13 she became the youngest ever endorsee for Yanagisawa Saxophones, and she is also a patron for Awards for Young Musicians.

She also gave a TEDx talk on the instrument, aged just 15. The video now has over 100,000 views on YouTube.

Jess grew up in Ulverston, and is now keen to promote her own concerts and bring international talent to her hometown.

Jess Gillam at Hyde Park
Jess Gillam at Hyde Park. Picture: Getty

Jess Gillam’s concerts and performances

Jess performed alongside the obituaries at the 2019 BAFTA Awards.

Jess is particularly known for her take on ‘Where the Bee Dances’ by Michael Nyman, which she performed with the Southbank Sinfonia at Shine 2017, an ABRSM event celebrating music and music education.

Jess is also known for her pioneering attitude towards the classical concert. She recently told The Telegraph that she would like to see more dancing, cheering and clapping between movements, saying, “an instinctive reaction from the audience only proved the joy of music”.

Jess Gillam’s father

In 2018, Gillam’s father Doug gave an interview, saying his daughter’s success was a constant source of pride.

“It’s amazing,” he told The Mail. “Jess has lots of good news on a regular basis and it is quite difficult to take in sometimes. It doesn't seem quite real. Playing at the Royal Opera House was a dream of Jess’ and now she's going back again.

“She is very much the same girl. When she's on TV she is still the same person that she was when she’s in Ulverston. She is doing amazing things but in the street she has always been the same person.”

Jess Gillam on social media

Jess can be found posting on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.