Jess Gillam and Thomas Weaver

saxophone and piano

February 3, 2019, 4 pm

Music Room

In 2016, Jess Gillam made history as the first saxophonist to win the woodwind final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. She made her BBC Proms debut in 2017 and returns in 2018 as one of the soloists in the Last Night of the Proms. Gillam hosts the BBC Young Musician weekly podcast, and recently became Decca Classics’s first saxophone player. She is a student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and is mentored by saxophonist and composer John Harle. The US debut of this charismatic young artist includes an engaging mix of music originally composed for saxophone and arrangements, with composers ranging from the Baroque period to Michael Nyman and John Harle, via Milhaud, Britten, and Bartok.


Pequeña Czarda

Temporal Variations

MAURICE RAVEL (1875-1937)
Pièce en forme de Habanera

RUDY WIEDOEFT (1893-1940)
Valse Vanité

“If” (from The Diary of Anne Frank)

DARIUS MILHAUD (1892-1974)


Oboe Concerto in D minor, S.Z799

Escapades from Catch Me If You Can

BÉLA BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 56

JOHN HARLE (b. 1956)

In summer 2017, Jess Gillam made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall where she performed as a soloist with both the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jessica Cottis and the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Keith Lockhart. Gillam returns to perform two proms in 2018, the BBC Young Musician Prom and the world famous Last Night of the Proms which is broadcast on international television. In June 2018, she made her international debut with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Santtu-Matias Rouvali, and has been the recipient of a Classic Brit Award in the Sound of Classical Poll 2018, which promotes the best emerging artists and ones-to-watch in classical music.

In the 2018/2019 season Gillam makes a number of important international debuts including the Tampere Philharmonic, her debut at l’Auditori Barcelona, her Swiss debut opening the season at the Argovia Philharnonic as well as making her debut at the acclaimed Phillips Collection recital series in Washington, DC.

She also appears extensively in recital throughout the UK and performs with orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and the Manchester Camerata. 

Gillam studies at the Royal Northern College of Music with an ABRSM Scholarship, and is mentored by John Harle. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 (Woman’s Hour), BBC Radio 2, BBC 6 Music, and BBC Radio Cumbria, who have made a program about her. In 2015, Jess was awarded Musician of the Year at the Cumbria Culture Awards. 

Gillam programs and presents shows on TV and radio including the BBC Young Musician podcast and recently featured in a documentary celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the BBC Young Musician Competition. 

In 2016, at the age of 17, Gillam made history as the first saxophonist to win the Woodwind Final of BBC Young Musician of the Year. She then reached the Grand Final at London’s Barbican Hall, and performed Michael Nyman’s Where the Bee Dances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Wigglesworth to widespread critical acclaim.  

Gillam records exclusively for Decca Classics, and is a Vandoren UK Artist. 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 promotes her own series of concerts, bringing international talent to her hometown of Ulverston. Gillam is very grateful for the support she has received from the Young Classical Artists Trust.

Thomas Weaver is an American pianist and composer currently based in Philadelphia. A native of New Jersey, he began his study of piano at the age of eight, giving his first public performance at the age of nine.

Weaver's playing has been hailed as displaying "sensitivity" and "deep resonance," as well as "incredible dexterity." He has performed extensively as a soloist and chamber musician, appearing in recitals both in the US and abroad. He has been heard in concert halls in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Nashville, Florida, Texas, New Hampshire, Tanglewood, Germany, and others. Weaver has been featured alongside many other musicians, including Kenneth Radnofsky, Eric Ruske, Jennifer Bill, Klaudia Szlachta, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and others.

A champion of new music, Weaver has premiered the works of his colleagues both in the US and abroad. Recently, he worked with Kenneth Radnofsky and Jennifer Bill, performing David Amram's Greenwich Village Portraits as part of the premiere period associated with the Worldwide Concurrent Premieres organization. Recently, Weaver performed at the 85th birthday celebration of David Amram, and will join the Amram Ensemble, including Radnofsky and Elmira Darvarova for performances of a newly composed trio, starting in Karlsruhe, Germany. In addition to this, many composers have also written works especially for him, including Passacaglia ​by Christopher LaRosa.

Weaver is an award-winning composer, whose works have been heard throughout the US, Japan, Austria, and Germany. He has written for a variety of mediums, including solo, chamber, orchestral, vocal, and stage works. His musical language blends a love of Romantic timing and phrasing with a modernist harmonic and motivic language. He has had works performed or commissioned by many musicians and ensembles, including Alea III, the Boston University Symphony Orchestra, Daraja Ensemble, Kenneth Radnofsky, Mannes American Composers Ensemble, Klaudia Szlachta, and others. Weaver is a member of ASCAP. 

Weaver was the winner of the Boston University Composition Competition and was recently awarded the Bohuslav Martinu Composition Award for his orchestral piece, Landscapes. Five Sketches for Piano was a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Competition. Recently, Weaver went on tour with tubist, Joshua DeVries, performing Sonata for Tuba and Piano.

Weaver is on faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he teaches Core Studies (harmony, counterpoint, and analysis), Keyboard Studies, and Supplementary Piano. He is a staff pianist and accompanist at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute and for Mannes College The New School for Music. He holds a Master of Music degree in both Piano Performance and Composition from Mannes College, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University. His primary piano teachers include Anthony di Bonaventura, Victor Rosenbaum, and Pavel Nersessian. His primary composition instructors include David Loeb, Dr. John Wallace, Dr. Martin Amlin, and Jonathan Coopersmith.