Saxophone Faculty

Rob Buckland

Rob Buckland is internationally acclaimed as one of the most distinctive and versatile Saxophonists of his generation, regularly appearing as concerto and recital soloist, with his Equivox Trio, and with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet. He has commissioned and recorded music from many of today’s leading composers, featuring on his own solo CD (Towards the Light 1998), with the Equivox Trio (The Time is Now 2006), eight CDs with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet (of which he is a founder member), and 2 new CDs planned for 2012, including a new disc of saxophone concertos that he has commissioned over the last 20 years.

He regularly performs and records with such diverse ensembles such as the Michael Nyman Band, Halle Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, Opera North and Northern Sinfonia. Uniquely in demand as both classical soloist and jazz artist, Rob also regularly works with Sax Assault, the John Wilson Orchestra, BBC Big Band, Royal Variety Performance Orchestra, Keith Nichol’s various early jazz projects, and can regularly be heard performing on many Film and TV soundtracks, including recently the BBC’s remake of “Upstairs Downstairs”, and ITV’s highly acclaimed “The Forsyth Saga”. In recent years, Rob has been heard performing as concerto soloist with the RLPO, CBSO and the Orchestra of Opera North performing John Williams’ “Escapades” Concerto - taken from the soundtrack to the Dreamworks Film “Catch Me if You Can”, leading the saxophone section of the RLPO’s landmark performance with the Wayne Shorter Quartet in 2008 and recently featuring as the saxophone soloist with Elvis Costello’s new orchestral project.

Rob has spent a significant proportion of his time over the last 25 years performing with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, a world class ensemble that is widely acknowledged as one of the UK's finest contemporary chamber ensembles, performing, recording and commissioning over 100 new works for the medium. As a composer, Rob writes and arranges for both concert performance and film, tv and media, and has written a highly successful and popular ongoing series of original compositions for young players, many of which are now part of the Associated Board, Trinity and Guildhall syllabuses (published by astute-music.com). He will also release a new comprehensive saxophone tutor book, based on his 15 years teaching at the RNCM, in spring 2012.

Alongside his busy performing schedule, Rob is Professor of Saxophone at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he was recently awarded a Fellowship (2008). He is Saxophone Consultant at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, runs his own International Saxophone Summer School, the Manchester and Harrogate Saxophone Summer Courses, and is frequently asked to present saxophone weekends and days throughout the UK. Rob is a Henri Selmer Paris artist, and endorsee for Vandoren Reeds.

Carl Raven

Carl Raven is a freelance saxophonist and educator in Manchester, U.K. He has performed with BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Halle, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic,Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble 10:10, Manchester Camerata, Opera North, Northern Sinfonia, the Michael Nyman band and is a member of the acclaimed Apollo Saxophone Quartet. He is also a member of ‘House of Bedlam’.

Carl currently is a saxophone and improvisation tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and at Leeds University and Manchester University. Carl is a Vandoren performing artist.

Sally MacTaggart

Sally MacTaggart is an award winning freelance saxophonist and teacher based in London. She began her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, studying with Rob Buckland and Andy Scott, and graduated with first class honors in 2010. During her time there she picked up numerous accolades including the RNCM Creative Soloist prize, RNCM Concerto award and RNCM Chamber Ensemble of the Year. Following this she relocated to London and achieved a Masters with distinction at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, under Christian Forshaw, John Harle and Nick Moss.

Gilly Blair

Gilly Blair is an award winning classical Saxophonist from the Wirral, UK. She graduated from the RNCM with a First Class BMus (hons) degree in 2014 and with a Masters degree with distinction in 2016 under the tutelage of Rob Buckland and Carl Raven. During her studies,
Gillian received tuition and appeared in masterclasses with internationally acclaimed artists including Vincent David, Arno Bornkamp, Johan van der Linden and Timothy McAllister, and studied at the internationally renowned 'European University of the Saxophone' in Gap, France. As a soloist, she has performed around the country at festivals and concert series' including the BBC Proms.

John Alley

Until very recently John Alley was Principal Keyboard Player of the London Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has played just about everywhere. Indeed, he recently returned from a very successful trip to the west coast of the USA with Michael Tilson Thomas.

He has performed in countless Proms and has worked with many of the twentieth century's major composer/conductors, including Boulez, Berio, Benjamin, Henze, Lutoswaski, Oliver Knussen, and Thomas Ades.

A 'minor' sensation occurred in the performance of Shostakovich's 'Suite for the Hypothetically Murdered' when he drank a pint of beer in the middle of a cadenza!

He has recorded extensively for television, radio, and disc and played on the soundtracks films like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Braveheart, Little Women and (the new) Jane Eyre. He has contributed to over thirty volumes of music including Rabboni flute sonatas and the Arban trumpet studies, for which he wrote the accompaniments.