Musicians in Residence

We are delighted to be working with acclaimed composer Sally Beamish as Composer in Residence and renowned clarinettist Julian Bliss as Artist in Residence for the 2023/24 academic year. These newly created roles will see the musicians work with the School in a variety of guises and provide a unique opportunity for pupils to work and perform with both world-class artists.

As Composer in Residence, Beamish’s works will feature in concerts at The Menuhin Hall, our professional concert venue, throughout the year and pupils will have an opportunity to work with her directly in concert preparation. Beamish will visit the school for talks, seminars and workshops about her career and composition, and she will provide coaching for pupils studying first-study composition at the School. An accomplished violist and chamber musician, she will also perform alongside pupils in concerts.

Bliss, as Artist in Residence, will also appear in concerts with pupils throughout the season, both as a soloist and with his jazz Septet, supporting the School and Hall’s mission to provide a diverse musical experience for pupils and audiences. Overall, Bliss’ appointment will widen the pupil’s educational experience by providing opportunities for them to work with an instrument that is not regularly taught at the School.

Take a look at The Menuhin Hall website to book tickets to see appearances by both musicians.

Sally Beamish - Composer in Residence

Sally Beamish was born in London. She studied viola at the RNCM with Patrick Ireland and in Detmold with Bruno Giuranna and was a founder member of the Raphael Ensemble. In her early career, Beamish performed regularly with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields and the London Sinfonietta and was principal viola in the London Mozart Players and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

In 1990, she moved from London to Scotland to develop her career as a composer. Her music embraces many influences - particularly jazz and Scottish traditional music.

She has recently moved to Brighton and is married to writer Peter Thomson. She still performs regularly as violist, pianist and narrator.

In February 2012 and July 2015, Beamish was BBC Radio 3 Composer of the Week.

Her ballet, The Tempest, (for Birmingham Royal Ballet and Houston Ballet with choreographer Sir David Bintley), was premiered in October 2016 at Birmingham Hippodrome and Sadler's Wells, London, with the US premiere by Houston Ballet in May 2017.

Her second ballet, The Little Mermaid (choreographer David Nixon OBE), was premiered in September 2017 by Northern Ballet and toured the UK with 75 performances. The ballet toured the UK again in Autumn 2022.

In 2018, she was a featured composer at the Ryedale and Trondheim festivals, performing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as narrator and with the Elias and Chilingirian Quartets on viola, as well as several appearances as pianist.

From 2018-2020, Beamish was composer-in-residence with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields for which she wrote Partita for string quartet and Hover for oboes, horns and string orchestra which was featured at the Academy's 60th anniversary gala concert at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 2019.

Sally Beamish is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow, a Creative Scotland Award, and a Paul Hamlyn Award, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. In 2018, she was awarded the Inspiration Award at the British Composer Awards in recognition of lifetime achievement and in 2020 was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. She was recently appointed as an international fellow of the Royal Swedish musical academy.

Distans - a concerto for violinist Janine Jansen and clarinettist Martin Fröst – was commissioned by the Concertgebouw, Swedish Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, and London Symphony Orchestras. The premiere performance was given in May 2021 by the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Johannes Gustavsson. It received its Dutch premiere in Amsterdam with the Concertgebouw conducted by Klaus Mäkelä in April 2023, and the London premiere will be at the Barbican in June 2024, with the LSO conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.

In March 2022, Beamish premiered a new work for viola, piano and speaker, commissioned by her long-term patron, Dr Gerry Mattock, with pianist Roland Roberts, and speaker Peter Thomson. This was part of a joint celebration for her 65th birthday, and that of the Park Lane Group, at the Royal Overseas League in London. In this concert, she also gave the London premiere of Albatross, as pianist with saxophonist Branford Marsalis. She plays on a viola made by her daughter, Stephanie Irvine.

Her choral piece, A Knock on the Door (libretto by Peter Thomson), commissioned by Quakers Concern for the Abolition of Torture, was premiered by Ex Cathedra at Birmingham Town Hall in Autumn 2022.

With Sir David Bintley, Beamish is currently working on her third full-length ballet, A Christmas Carol, to be premiered by Finnish National Ballet in December 2023. In June Roderick Williams (baritone) performed her Four Songs from Hafez, with the Sinfonia of London conducted by John Wilson, at the Aldeburgh Festival. This year has also seen the world premiere of ‘Trance’ for Piano Trio, commissioned and performed by Trio Gaspard.

As a performer, she is a member of the string quintet Ensemble V, and also the York Road Band, with guitarist Arthur Dick and Peter Thomson on vocals/bass. She has also performed in the Ryedale, Trondheim, Peasmarsh and Oxford Festivals.

Sally Beamish’s music is published by Edition Peters and by Norsk Musikforlag. Since 1999, her music has been championed by the Swedish/International Record company BIS and many of her recordings can be found on this label.

In 2006 the Scottish National Portrait Gallery purchased a portrait of Sally for their permanent collection The screenprint was made by printmaker-artist Shelagh Atkinson.

Photo credit: Ashley Coombes

Julian Bliss - Artist in Residence

Julian Bliss is one of the world’s finest clarinettists, excelling as a concerto soloist, chamber musician, recitalist, jazz artist, and masterclass leader. As co-creator of his Conn-Selmer range of affordable clarinets under the Leblanc brand, he has inspired a generation of young players and introduced a substantial new audience to his instrument. Julian started playing the clarinet aged four and went on to study in the United States at the University of Indiana and in Germany under Sabine Meyer, turning professional aged just twelve.

In recital and chamber music he has played at most of the world’s leading festivals and halls, including Gstaad, New York’s Lincoln Center, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Verbier and London’s Wigmore Hall. As a soloist, he has appeared with a wide range of international orchestras, including the Auckland Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra of Paris, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sao Paolo Symphony and the Queensland Symphony.

This season, Bliss travels all around the UK with numerous performances of Mozart’s clarinet concerto, joining the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Royal Northern Sinfonia. He joins the Yehudi Menuhin School as their first Artist in Residence for several projects including Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Elsewhere he gives a recital in Dubai, returns to festivals in Risor, East Neuk and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and gives further performances of a new concerto for Clarinet and Wind Orchestra, written for him by the eminent composer John Mackey, which he premiered with Dallas Winds last season.

Bliss ended last season with the Singapore Symphony and a return visit to Mondsee Festival in Austria. Other concerto highlights included Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and with London Mozart Players at Inner Temple Hall, London. He appeared at festivals across the UK in recital and chamber music with regular partners James Baillieu and the Carducci Quartet as well as many other colleagues.

Excellent reviews, record of the week spots and media attention flow from his recording output. He will be adding to his discography in 2024 with a number of new releases, including the new Mackey concerto. This follows previous releases on Signum Records in 2021 which included Brahms Clarinet Sonatas with pianist James Baillieu, and an EP of Julian’s arrangements for clarinet of wind ensemble works by legends of the US band world John Mackey, Frank Ticheli and Eric Whitacre. Other recent albums include Mozart and Weber Quintets with the Carducci String Quartet; Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock with Ailish Tynan (soprano) and Christopher Glynn (piano); Steve Reich’s New York Counterpoint; Mozart and Nielsen’s Clarinet Concertos with the Royal Northern Sinfonia.

In 2010, Bliss established the Julian Bliss Septet, creating programmes inspired by the King of Swing, Benny Goodman, and a show built around the extraordinary musical output of George Gershwin. A recording of the Gershwin programme “I Got Rhythm” released in 2021 received rave reviews – “impressive recording by talented clarinettist Julian Bliss and his excellent Septet [...] Bliss’s quick-fire clarinet starts weaving free-flowing improvisational lines around the tune from the very outset [...] jaw-dropping, side-stepping vibes solo [...] the whole ensemble is on fire” – Gramophone. The Septet has performed to packed houses across the US and in European festivals, at Ronnie Scott’s (London) and Live from Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York).

With the launch of Bliss Music in 2020, Julian’s arrangements of a selection of pieces for clarinet and piano have been made available as sheet music. These include Rachmaninoff’s Cello Sonata Op. 19, the third movement of which has been set as a Grade 6 piece on the new London College of Music clarinet syllabus.

Photo credit: Conn-Selmer