Hailed as a “pioneering instrumentalist and writer” and praised for his “surpassingly beautiful music” and “undoubtedly brilliant mind”, British saxophonist Alastair Penman is a dynamic and versatile performer and composer, presenting contemporary music in new and exciting ways. Having earned masters’ degrees in both Information and Computer Engineering (University of Cambridge) and Saxophone Performance (Royal Northern College of Music), Alastair has a strong interest in the fusion of live saxophone performance with electronic effects, backings, and enhancements to create often previously undiscovered sound-worlds.
Although classically trained, Alastair enjoys exploring many musical worlds; such influences can be heard in his compositions and performances, which often transcend genre definition.
As a soloist, Alastair has performed at venues including St Martin-in-the-Fields, St John’s Smith Square, Milton Court, Trinity College Chapel (Cambridge), The Forge and Clapham Omnibus. He has been a guest recitalist at the RNCM and Canterbury Christ Church University Saxophone Days and at EurSax17 (the 2017 European Saxophone Congress at Consevatório da Música do Porto), presenting material from his album, Electric Dawn. Alastair has also made numerous concerto appearances with both orchestras and wind orchestras, and recently acted as understudy to John Harle for performances of Harle’s newly choreographed soprano saxophone concerto Arcadia with Birmingham Royal Ballet, on tour in the south of England as well as at Birmingham Hippodrome and Saddlers Wells.
In an ensemble setting, Alastair performs with the award-winning Borealis Saxophone Quartet (soprano saxophone) and Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet (baritone saxophone). Alastair has performed with the Philharmonia Chamber Orchestra, Royal Ballet Sinfonia Orpheus Sinfonia, Ardente Opera, The Beethoven Ensemble and Cambridge Touring Opera. He has also appeared with jazz groups at Montreux and London Jazz Festivals, as well as at jazz clubs across Europe. Alastair has had the pleasure of working with conductors including Sir Roger Norrington, Dimitry Sitkovetsky, Baldur Bronnimann, David Hill and Stephen Cleobury, and has performed with jazz greats Mike Gibbs, Clare Teal, Steve Waterman, Mark Nightingale, Gareth Lockrane, Julian Arguelles, Liane Carroll, Issie Barratt and John Helliwell.
As a composer, Alastair has been commissioned by the Park Lane Group, and his composition Soar was highly commended in the Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain Composition Competition 2016. Alastair’s works have been performed extensively in the UK, and have also received performances in Europe and South Africa.
Alastair is a City Music Foundation Artist, Park Lane Group Artist, BBC Introducing Artist and has won awards from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, RNCM (Fewkes and Harwood Scholarships) and St. Catharine’s College. Alastair has also been a finalist in the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe and RNCM Gold Medal Competitions.
Supported by the City Music Foundation, Alastair’s recorded his debut solo album, Electric Dawn on Sospiro Records. The album features new compositions for saxophone and electronics and was produced by the legendary saxophonist John Harle. Critics have praised the playing as “exemplary”, “diamond-sharp, tonally burnished and singing free” and recognised that “each piece had a perfection of its own”, creating a “cohesive and triumphantly experimental debut”. Music from the album has received airplay on BBC Radio 3.