Alison Balsom, OBE
Alison made her US television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman, a platform few classical artists have gained access to. Balsom also headlined the Last Night of the Proms in 2009 with the concert reaching one of the BBC’s biggest ever global television audiences of an estimated 200 million. In 2013 Alison was featured in her own South Bank Show for Sky Arts and also won a 2013 Nordoff Robbins O2 Silver Clef Award alongside Barry Gibb, Coldplay and Labrinth. More recently Alison has presented the BBC Young Musician, the UK’s leading contest for young classical musicians. Balsom has performed with some of the greatest conductors and orchestras of our time including Lorin Maazel, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Roger Norrington, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Philharmonia Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, Wiener Symphoniker, Hong Kong Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, BBC Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, BBC NOW, BBC Scottish Orchestras and Philadelphia Orchestra.
Summer 2013 saw several debuts for Alison on the natural trumpet including her role as the Creative Producer and protagonist of the new 5-star critically acclaimed production “Gabriel” at Shakespeare’s Globe in London and her first ever performance at Latitude Festival (Latitude won “Best Line-Up” at the 2013 Festival Awards).
In 2014 Alison Balsom was involved in various new projects including visiting some of the poorest areas of Uganda as Patron for Brass for Africa, speaking at a TEDMED conference about the power of music, launching and supporting the BBC's long-term music education campaign called 'Ten Pieces', performing at the iTunes Festival for the first time, working in partnership with the newly invented all-plastic trumpet 'The pTrumpet' and appearing in BBC Music's God Only Knows video which had 8 million YouTube hits in the first month.
Another 2014 first for Alison saw her return to the Royal Albert Hall, this time headlining her first ever solo show. This London concert was the climax of a successful UK major city tour: Balsom presented a contemporary show based around her new album Paris and performed a widely eclectic programme with her own band, a string quartet & a jazz quintet, demonstrating the extreme versatility of her instrument.
Balsom’s highly distinctive sound earned her much recognition in her early career when she primarily reached her audience through radio broadcasts under the auspices of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. While represented by the Young Concert Artists Trust, Alison caught the ear of EMI Classics with whom she has recorded exclusively since 2001. Consistently topping the charts with each new release, Balsom’s Italian Concertos album, made up of her own arrangements, became EMI Classics best selling album of 2010. Paris, Alison’s latest release which she co-produced with Guy Barker, took No. 1 chart positions in the UK, US and Japan.
In addition to transcribing and arranging existing works for both natural and valved instruments, Alison is increasingly active in commissioning new works for trumpet. In Toronto recently she performed Songs of the Paradise Saloon by Bramwell Tovey and earlier this year she premiered a new work by Qigang Chen in China and at the Proms. She is currently working with Guy Barker on a new symphonic work for 2015.
Her world premiere performance of James MacMillan’s Seraph at the Wigmore Hall in February 2011 went on to become the title track of her 2011 release for EMI Classics. Alison’s 2012 album, Sound the Trumpet, saw Balsom perform a variety of works by Purcell and Handel with Trevor Pinnock and The English Concert on period instruments. For her release, The Sound of Alison Balsom, she selected some of her favourite recordings from her past award-winning albums which include performances on both the natural and the modern trumpet.
Alison Balsom studied trumpet at the Paris Conservatoire, and with Håkan Hardenberger. She also studied, and is now a fellow at, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She was a concerto finalist in the BBC Young Musician competition in 1998 and received the Feeling Musique Prize for quality of sound in the 2001 Maurice André International Trumpet Competition.