World Saxophone Congress 2012, St Andrews, Scotland

The Apollo Saxophone Orchestra

perform the music of Barbara Thompson

In association with Yanagisawa Saxophones

This programme will comprise a selection of works for Saxophone Orchestra by Barbara Thompson. The Apollo Saxophone Quartet have assembled an exciting line-up of saxophonists to record a CD of Barbara’s music in early 2012. This performance will launch the CD, and also feature a documentary about the composer’s life.


Rob Buckland - Sopranino/Soprano saxophones 
Meriel Price - Soprano saxophone
Sally MacTaggart - Soprano saxophone 
Carl Raven - Alto saxophone
Fiona Asbury - Alto saxophone 
Ruth Bourne - Alto saxophone
Andy Scott - Tenor saxophone
Neil Crossley - Tenor saxophone
Chrisoph Enzel - Tenor saxophone
Michael Brogan - Baritone saxophone
Huw Wiggin - Baritone saxophone
Jim Fieldhouse - Bass saxophone


Perpetual Motion
"This piece is orchestral in concept and from the beginning it took a positive direction of its own. At times I felt like a mere onlooker. It introduces the many colours and textures possible from the Saxophone Orchestra, with contrapuntal lines interweaving, ebbing and flowing like tides."

Dear Bach
"I had the idea of a long slow theme accompanied by organ-like chords, but once again the piece took over as Bach’s influence turned up both in the melodic lines and chords. Two cadenzas from individual Saxophones take the piece to a climax as the two visions combine with the whole orchestra playing in grand unison. Finally, repeated chords fade into the distance."

"This piece started off as an idea for a raucous party piece featuring a lot of rumbustious playing by the Saxophone Orchestra. There is a rousing Alto solo by Carl Raven with a rhythmical backing led by the driving force of Jim Fieldhouse on Bass Sax. The Soprano Saxes led by Rob Buckland on Sopranino sound like trumpets and the instructions are ‘to play it as fast as you dare!’"

"This is a Latin dance with jazzy overtones where the rhythm is king, arranged beautifully by Rob Buckland, who also plays the virtuoso Sopranino solo."

"I couldn’t resist writing a tango especially for this line-up. As everyone knows when you’re writing a Tango there are no rules. As long as the ambiance is there, anything goes. I can imagine a couple dancing to this and their response to the middle section in particular would be fascinating to see."


Barbara Thompson 

Born in Oxford in 1944, Barbara started playing recorder aged 6, and was to finish her academic career studying clarinet, flute, piano and composition at the Royal College of Music.

Whilst retaining a strong interest in classical music, she commenced a working career as a jazz saxophonist and played with most of the great UK jazz musicians. She finally formed her own group Paraphernalia in 1977 and by the early 1980s the band became one of the major instrumental attractions on the European concert scene where it toured for over 30 years. She has recorded more than 20 albums under her own name, as well as appearing on numerous others. She worked with Andrew Lloyd-Webber for several years, on projects including Variations, Tell me On A Sunday, and Cats. Viewers of the popular TV series ‘A Touch of Frost’ will recognise the sound of her haunting saxophone playing the opening theme.

Barbara was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1997 and thought she would have to abandon playing, so she made the decision to return to her early love and embark on a composing career. However, the continually evolving advances in treatments have meant that as well as continuing to write she has also carried on performing; her latest albums are Never Say Goodbye (released 2007) featuring herself with her group Paraphernalia and the live double album “Live 05” featuring herself with her husband’s group Colosseum.

Barbara’s classical compositions include works commissioned and played by ensembles such as the Apollo Saxophone Quartet (Three Quartets), the Goldberg Contemporary String Ensemble (Concerto No.1 for Saxophone Quartet and String Orchestra), Camerata Bern and the Rascher Saxophone Quartet (Concerto No.2 ‘Mirages’ for Saxophone Quartet and String Orchestra), the Hanover Radio Symphony Orchestra (Concerto for 3 saxophones), Evelyn Glennie (Rhythms of the Gods), and the Medici String Quartet (the album Barbara Song featuring the music of Kurt Weil.) Choral works include, Love Songs in Age, commissioned by Radio 3 and featuring the BBC Singers with the Medici String Quartet, based on the poetry of Philip Larkin, and broadcast live from the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the album Journey to A Destination Unknown, based on the poetry of Tagore and featuring the 100 voice choir, Big Sky.

Barbara was awarded an MBE for services to music as musician and composer in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 1995.


The Apollo Saxophone Orchestra

The groundbreaking Apollo Saxophone Quartet has been at the forefront of the British contemporary music scene for over a quarter of a century. During this time, the ensemble has developed a long-standing working relationship with the 'leading lady of British Jazz' Barbara Thompson. As part of the ASQ 25 year celebrations, the group wanted to mark the enormous contribution that Barbara has made to the UK music scene and beyond, as a saxophonist and composer, over the last forty years.

In 2012 the ASQ assembled an exciting line-up of saxophonists to form the Apollo Saxophone Orchestra, drawing players from London, Scotland and Berlin as well as the North of England. Its inaugural project was a CD of Barbara Thompson's music for 12 piece saxophone ensemble, including works composed specifically for the Apollo Saxophone Orchestra, recorded at the RNCM in January 2012 and produced by Barbara's husband, the drummer Jon Hiseman. The recording will be launched at the World Saxophone Congress XVI.


This event is kindly sponsored by

Yanagisawa Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain Creative Scotland

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