Artist in Residence

We are very pleased to announce trumpeter Alison Balsom as Artist in Residence for 2016/17 Cambridge Classical Concert Series. She will be delivering some inspirational music education workshops to students throughout the county, in partnership with Cambridge Live and Cambridgeshire Music.

Alison is a passionate advocate of the importance of music education. She studied trumpet at the Paris Conservatoire, and with Håkan Hardenberger. She also studied, and is now an honorary fellow at, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She regularly teaches masterclasses worldwide including at the
Julliard School, New York, and the Curtis Institute, Philadelphia. Balsom regularly gives talks and seminars including a TED talk at the TEDMED conference at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 2014, entitled ‘Music as a Healer’, and in 2015 a lecture at Somerville College, Oxford University, entitled ‘Women in the Arts’.

"I’m absolutely thrilled that I am to be artist in residence at this glorious venue next season. I have played in Cambridge almost from the first month I started to play the trumpet at the age of seven, and many of my most cherished musical memories and experiences are from the Corn Exchange and surrounding areas. I’m hugely looking forward to playing once again in this great acoustic with a variety of my favourite concert programmes, and with world class friends and collaborators." Alison Balsom

Just married to film director Sam Mendes and recently returned from her New York Phil debut, Alison spoke to Andrew Burton about her forthcoming appearance at Cambridge Corn Exchange. (Cambridge News 16/2/17)
Whichever way you look at it, it’s been an extraordinary year for Corn Exchange Artist in Residence Alison Balsom.  She was awarded an O.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last summer; in January, the three-time Classical BRITS winning trumpeter fulfilled a lifetime ambition by playing alongside the New York Philharmonic; and just a few weeks ago she married the legendary stage and film director Sam Mendes, best known for films such as James Bond and American Beauty.  
On Tuesday, February 21 Corn Exchange audiences are in for a rare treat when Alison performs a recital of pieces old and new at the Corn Exchange, including the world premiere of a new work, Distraction, by Corn Exchange Composer in Residence Jay Richardson.  She is joined for this special evening by guest trombonist Becky Smith and by pianist Tom Poster, who collaborated with her on composing one of the pieces.
I caught up with her shortly after her return from New York.
ANDREW BURTON:  How was it, fulfilling a lifetime ambition to perform with the New York Phil?

ALISON BALSOM:  It was a fantastic experience, and the orchestra were not only immensely powerful but also subtle. It was just brilliant - they were incredibly welcoming and made it a real pleasure.
Huge congratulations on your recent marriage to Sam Mendes.  Are you planning on maintaining any links with Cambridge?

Thank you, and of course! Sam went to Cambridge University, and I grew up in Royston and attended school there, and in Cambridge, and have had some of my most memorable musical experiences at King's College chapel, Trinity College chapel, West Road Concert Hall and the Corn Exchange, and my family live close by, so we will of course be returning regularly for a variety of reasons.
What should audiences expect from the world premiere of Jay Richardson's Distraction as part of your Corn Exchange recital?
It is extremely exciting to be playing a new piece by Jay Richardson - a Cambridge University student and composer. He wanted to write a piece inspired by some of the other works in the programme and it’s great that it involves so many children and adult brass players too. It will be conducted by Becky Smith, one of my oldest friends whom I met through playing music. Becky and I started playing at the same time - so it will be a really nice addition to the programme.  
After such a busy start to the year, what do you hope the rest of 2017 holds in store for you? 
One of the biggest highlights for me in the next few months will be my solo show at the Royal Albert Hall on 12th March. I have invited a number of my most extraordinarily talented friends to come and play with me (including Bryn Terfel, Hannah Stone, Guy Barker and David Goode to name but a few!) and there’s really something for everyone as I play the baroque trumpet as well as a premiere written for my by the fabulously talented Gabriel Prokofiev.  

Other projects to look forward to include returning to the world class City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to perform Guy Barker’s Trumpet Concerto in May, I also have a continuing Wigmore Hall residency as well as my next concert at the Corn Exchange with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, June 17. As President of Deal Festival, I open their Festival in July with Haydn's Trumpet Concerto and then also get to do an education project with them which of course is very close to my heart.

After I perform at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Phil in August I intend to take a season's sabbatical from touring. It feels like the perfect time to spend less time on the road, and more time at home making the recordings I've been planning for years, but not had the time to fully focus on.

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