Jamie Savan is a member of His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, and founder-director of The Gonzaga Band. He is also active as a solo recitalist, and as an orchestral principal with the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. He has performed with many other of the world’s leading period-instrument ensembles, including Concerto Palatino, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, and Bach Collegium Japan to name but a few, and continues to be in great demand as a freelance player of the cornett, mute cornett, and the oft-neglected ‘lizard’ or tenor cornett. He is lucky enough to combine his performing career with teaching and research as a Senior Lecturer in Music at Birmingham Conservatoire.
Jamie’s main passion is in discovering previously unknown music in old manuscripts and original printed part-books, and in bringing it to life though the process of transcribing, editing, performing and recording. This has led to a number of acclaimed CD productions, including the Complete Instrumental Music and Selected Motets of Giovanni Battista Grillo with His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts (Sfz Music, 2007), and Sacred Garland: Devotional Chamber Music from the Age of Monteverdi with The Gonzaga Band (Chandos, 2009).
Since graduating from Oxford University with a first class degree in Music in 1997, he has maintained an interest in academic research and scholarship, whilst developing an international performing career. In 2005, he completed a doctorate in historical performance practice at Birmingham University, where he was also active for several years as a visiting lecturer. Jamie also taught cornett for several years at Birmingham and was professor of cornett at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, before being appointed as Lecturer and Head of Performance at Newcastle University in 2010, and Senior Lecturer at Birmingham Conservatoire in 2016.
Jamie began his musical life as a trumpet player. As an undergraduate at Oxford he studied with Michael Laird (the renowned pioneer of both the natural trumpet and cornett), and passed the ARCM diploma in trumpet performance with honours. He went on to specialise on the cornett as a postgraduate student of Jeremy West at the Royal College of Music in London, funded by a Leverhulme studentship, and with Bruce Dickey at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, funded by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund.
Improvisation is a key aspect of Jamie’s approach to historical performance. His doctoral research focused on improvised ornamentation in Renaissance Germany, and his findings were published in the Historic Brass Society Journal (2008). Between 2005 and 2007 he was involved in a world tour of Alain Platel’sVSPRS with Les Ballets C de la B, a collaborative improvisation project involving jazz, Gypsy, and ‘early’ music. He is currently performing with Paula Chateauneuf’s ‘Division Lobby’, which is exploring approaches to improvisation in early seventeenth-century Italy.
Jamie’s playing has received considerable critical acclaim: a BBC Radio 3 presenter recently described his sound as ‘the most beautifully toned cornetto playing I’ve heard’. A reviewer for the BBC Music Magazine had ‘rarely heard mellifluous swing to match cornettist Jamie Savan’s’, while the Telegraph, in an echo of Mersenne, described his ‘superb technique and truly singing tone’ as a ‘glorious ray of musical sunshine’.
“the most beautifully toned cornetto playing I’ve heard” BBC Radio 3
“I’ve rarely heard mellifluous swing to match cornettist Jamie Savan’s” BBC Music Magazine
“superb technique and truly singing tone… a glorious ray of musical sunshine” The Telegraph
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