Jess Gillam MBE

Jess Gillam MBE

© Robin Clewley

Name: Jess Gillam

Role: Saxophonist and Junior RNCM Alumna

About: Junior RNCM graduate Jess is often described as a rising star in the classical world. No stranger to instigating change in the industry, she is noted for becoming the first saxophonist to reach the final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 2016; the first classical saxophonist to sign to Decca; the youngest ever endorsee for Yanagisawa saxophones aged just 13; the youngest saxophonist to hit the top of the classical music charts with her 2019 release, Rise; and the youngest broadcaster to present on BBC Radio 3 with the launch of her own weekly show, This Classical Life in 2019. Jess was inspired to begin her thriving career after hearing the Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet at the age 10, and her early commitment was clear as she made the weekly journey from her hometown of Ulverston, Cumbria, to attend Junior RNCM. She’s passionate about making classical music accessible and noted about her time with us: ‘The electrifying experience of the live concert is something to behold and we must ensure that young people have an opportunity to be a part of that communal experience. For me, Junior RNCM was very much about developing that sense of community through a rounded musical education. While I was there, Karen Humphreys (Head of the Junior RNCM) steered the ship so that essential parts of life were celebrated – kindness, friendship, passion and dedication and fun.’

Did you know? Did you know? Jess was awarded an MBE in the late Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honours list for services to music.

Find out more here.