The North - now available digitally!
October 06, 2019
New Video: The Singing Fish by Lucy Armstrong
August 15, 2019
Last week, Lauryna Sableviciute (piano) and I recorded 'The Singing Fish' by Lucy Armstrong, and the video is now on YouTube (and can also be viewed directly on the multimedia page of this website).
I commissioned Lucy to write a work for Alto Saxophone and Piano for me back in 2017, and I've had such fun performing it since then in Portugal, the UK, Japan and the USA.
Check it out and let me know what you think!
Crossing by Gavin Wayte
July 06, 2019
Elinor Nicholson (Harp) and I (aka the Polaris Duo) have spent the last week working intensely on a new project with composer Gavin Wayte.
We spent a few days this week working with students at Ashton Sixth Form College creating student-led pieces which reflect the theme of borders. This included working on graphic scores and a wonderful free improvisation session.
Following this, we were delighted to give the world premiere of Gavin's new work 'Crossing' at the Uppermill Summer Music Festival for Soprano Sax, Harp and Electronics.
The project was supported by Arts Council England, and we're excited that there's more to come in the Autumn, so watch this space!
Release of 'Believe'
April 28, 2019
Earlier this year I spent an afternoon at Abbey Road Studios in London recording a new charity single called 'Believe' by Simon Haw with the Commonwealth Orchestra, Commonwealth Children's Choir and 80's popstar Mica Paris. It is now available to purchase and stream on all major platforms.
You can watch the music video on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVQwMVZcWOc
March 20, 2019
I've just returned from a wonderful USA tour with my duo partner Nathan Mertens.
During our tour of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas we performed and gave recitals at the University of Texas, Oklahoma State University, Texas Christian University, Henderson State University and the University of Arkansas. To finish off the trip, we were concerto soloists at the Region 4 North American Saxophone Alliance conference in Arkansas, as well as giving several recitals there.
Videos from our performances can be found on the multimedia page of this site.
The Fall of Jerusalem - Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra
March 01, 2019
I'm looking forward to appearing as saxophone soloist on Dominic Muldowney's epic work 'The Fall of Jerusalem' with the Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra and Salford Choral Society at the end of the month.
We'll be performing on Saturday 30th March, 7:30pm in the RNCM Concert Hall, Manchester.
January 12, 2019
I'm very excited that I will be travelling to the USA in March for a fortnight of masterclasses and performances.
I will be making the trip with my colleague and good friend Nathan Mertens and we will be visiting universities in the states of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Following this recital and masterclass tour, we will be heading to the University of Arkansas for the North American Saxophone Alliance conference where we will be presenting the US Premiere of Andy Scott's double concerto; 'Tjuonavagge' in the opening concert.
We will also be presenting recitals of new music in the conference which will include works by Lucy Armstrong, Zack Browning, Andrew Boss, Nobuhito Sato and Rob Buckland.
To see daily updates in March, visit my instagram page: @gillian.blair.sax
Concerto with Wirral Symphony Orchestra
November 01, 2018
I'm delighted to be returning to the Wirral, my home town, to perform Glazunov's Saxophone Concerto with the Wirral Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jonathan Small.
The concert will be taking place on 17th November at 19:30 at Hope Church, Hoylake.
CASS Single Reed Day
September 22, 2018
I've just returned from a fantastic day at the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain's Single Reed Day where I was a guest performer in the evening concert.
It has been a great day at Nottingham University and it was fantastic to catch up with clarinet and saxophone players from around the country!
Polaris Duo on BBC Radio 3
September 13, 2018
Elinor and I were very excited to be invited to perform and be interviewed on BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune' with presenter Sean Rafferty last Friday.
To listen back click here
08'40 - Interview with Sean Rafferty
10'40 - Notturno by Gustav Bumcke
41'02 - Interview with Sean Rafferty
43'25 - Sonata for Saxophone and Harp, mvt 3 by Andy Scott
Artist for Henri Selmer Paris Saxophones and Vandoren UK
September 04, 2018
I am honoured to announce that I am now officially a Henri Selmer Paris Saxophones Artist and a Vandoren UK Artist.
I have been playing products from these two amazing companies for many years and am delighted to join their families.
For details about the equipment I use, click here
Borealis Saxophone Quartet at the BBC Proms
August 15, 2018
I'm excited to be returning to perform at the BBC Proms with the Borealis Saxophone Quartet! We'll be playing as part of the Prom Plus event showcasing BBC Introducing Artists.
If you'd like to come along, the concert is at Imperial College Union on Thursday 30th August at 17:25. If you can't make it, the concert will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 the following week.
World Saxophone Congress
July 07, 2018
I'm heading off to Croatia to perform at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb! I'm really looking forward to meeting up with saxophonists from around the world as well as performing with various ensembles.
On Wednesday I'll be performing with harpist Elinor Nicholson as we present music from our album 'illuminate' as well as giving the world premiere of a new work by Paul Mitchell-Davidson.
On Thursday, Nathan Mertens (saxophone), Rie Yokota (piano) and I will perform music for 2 saxophones and piano by Lucy Armstrong, Zack Browning, Andy Scott and the world premiere of a new work by American composer Andrew Boss.
On Friday I'll be joining Nathan Mertens and Elizabeth Rosinbum (USA) on a panel discussion about careers after music college.
On Saturday I'll be performing with the Tenor Saxophone Collective - a group of 12 tenor saxophonists from around the world!
I'm looking forward to all these performances as well as hearing the latest projects from my colleagues.
Blair/Mertens Duo Album Recording
July 04, 2018
I've spent the day recording with Saxophonist Nathan Mertens and Pianist Ben Powell at Salford University for an album of new music for 2 saxophones and piano. We managed to record half of the music and we'll be recording the remainder in 2019. We're looking forward to sharing it with you!
Polaris Duo Album Release
April 19, 2018
After many months of recording, mixing, photoshoots and design, I'm delighted to have released 'illuminate', the debut album from my duo with harpist Elinor Nicholson, today!
Head to www.polarisduo.com/shop to order your copy now!
Recording with the Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra
February 23, 2018
I've spent the last week recording music for 3 new CDs at the Guards' Chapel in London. This includes solo works with both the Band of the Coldstream Guards and with the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra as well as some smaller chamber works. It has been a pleasure working with these fantastic musicians directed by Major Simon Haw MBE, and with a production team from Abbey Road Studios led by the wonderful Simon Kiln.
Details about CD releases to follow!
Polaris Duo Album Recording
December 22, 2017
After 2 full on days, I'm delighted that Elinor and I have recorded our debut album! Produced by Rob Buckland, we are hoping to release the CD in April 2018...check back for details in the new year!
Polaris Duo launch Kickstarter Campaign
November 01, 2017
My saxophone and harp duo, Polaris, has juts launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of our debut album! We'll be recording a eclectic range of repertoire which includes commissions, original works for saxophone and harp and some arrangements of works by well known composers.
For more details and to pledge your support, please see: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1904749931/polaris-duo-debut-album?ref=user_menu
Borealis Saxophone Quartet on BBC Radio 3
October 03, 2017
Our quartet was delighted to be invited to perform and chat live on BBC Radio 3's 'In Tune' programme to celebrate 10 years of the BBC Introducing scheme. You can listen to our performance (from 6 mins, and again at 1 hour 10 mins) here for the next 30 days:
Harrogate Saxophone Summer School
August 24, 2017
I've just got back from another fantastic week at the Winstruments Harrogate Saxophone Summer School where I've been tutoring alongside Rob Buckland, Carl Raven and Sally MacTaggart. We were joined by Dave Hassell who ran a great rhythm and percussion workshop, and jazz saxophonist Krzysztof Urbanski who led an inspirational day of jazz workshops.
In addition to this we had quartets, quintets, 2 saxophone orchestras, technique sessions, masterclasses, individual lessons, massed saxes, a tutor concert and the annual Saxo-Quiz!
If this sounds like something you might enjoy, booking is already open for next year (19th-23rd August 2018) and details can be found here: http://www.windstruments.co.uk/Sax/saxindex.cfm
August 17, 2017
I am delighted to announce that I have been appointed as a tutor of Saxophone and Chamber Music at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music. The Junior RNCM provides expert tuition and specialist training for children and young people (aged 8-18) with exceptional musical ability and has a strong affiliation with the RNCM senior college.
I was a student at this inspiring institution 10 years ago, and have since completed my Bachelors and Masters degrees at the senior college, so this appointment is very special to me.
I look forward to beginning work at the JRNCM in September where I will be giving one-to-one saxophone lessons and coaching saxophone quartets.
World Premieres at EurSax17
May 31, 2017
I'm very excited to announce that in July I'll be travelling to Portugal with my accompanist David Gibson to give the world premieres of two new commissions for saxophone and piano!
The works are 'Amongst The Cinders' for soprano saxophone and piano by Grace Evangeline Mason, and 'The Singing Fish' for alto saxophone and piano by Lucy Armstrong.
The performance is part of EurSax17 which is a congress of saxophonists from all over Europe. Whilst I'm there, I'll also be performing with the Tenor Saxophone Collective. It's going to be a fantastic event!
For more information see www.eursax.eu
Toot Sweet: A Pairing Of Music and Cake
April 21, 2017
I'm delighted to announce a new project of mine which combines my two passions; music and baking! 'Toot Sweet' is a concert which will be first performed at Didsbury Arts Festival on 30th June. For each piece that I perform in the concert, audience members will sample a different baked delight which has been created to compliment the music.
For more info, see here: http://www.salutions.co.uk/musician-showcases-talents-at-didsbury-arts-festival/
Saxophone Concerto Index
March 29, 2017
I've been compiling an index of saxophone concertos for reference and programming purposes... Check it out here
It's designed in a way that means you're able to filter the index to look for works for a certain instrument, orchestration or duration, or just search for information about a specific piece.
I hope the saxophone community will find it to be a useful tool.
Borealis Saxophone Live Music Now Tour
March 15, 2017
Over the past few weeks, I've been touring round Yorkshire with the Borealis Saxophone Quartet in conjunction with Live Music Now. We've performed over 15 participatory concerts at 10 Special Educational Needs Schools in Sheffield, Doncaster, Halifax and Keighley and have had such a fantastic time! Due to the varied nature of these schools, we never fully know what to expect - pictured here is a wonderful moment where we were joined mid-piece on stage by one of the pupils who turned out to be a fantastic drummer!