Bryars and Nyman with Jess Gillam

Bryars and Nyman with Jess Gillam

Assembly Rooms


Vaughan Williams, Tallis Fantasia
Gavin Bryars, The Green Ray
Vaughan Williams, Fantasia on Greensleeves
Michael Nyman, Where the Bee Dances
Vaughan Williams, Linden Lea

Jess Gillam (saxophones)
Jason Thornton (conductor)

After her success in BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2016, Jess Gilham’s career to date can only be described as stratospheric including her 2017 BBC Proms debut.

Jess joins Bath Philharmonia to perform two of the best contemporary saxophone concertos: Gavin Bryar’s, ‘The Green Ray’ and Michael Nyman’s, ‘Where the Bee Dances’.

The music of Bryars and Nyman, whilst still infused with the sense of the pastoral is over-laid with sumptuous modern textures and crazy cross-rhythms. The Green Ray is the title of a romantic novel by Jules Verne, set in the West of Scotland, in which a peculiar atmospheric phenomenon plays the key part; a “green ray” is seen at sunset just as the sun touches the horizon. Where the Bee Dances has a double reference in its title: firstly to the circular dances which a foraging bee performs to communicate a food source and secondly to Nyman’s setting of ‘Where the bee sucks’, composed for Peter Greenaway’s film Prospero’s Books and quoted sporadically during this concerto.

Vaughan Williams’ music is highly evocative of the English countryside, particularly Gloucestershire, where he spent his formative years. His Tallis Fantasia, Fantasia on Greensleeves and the enchanting Linden Lea transport the listener to a Tudor idyll complete with folk-song, church music and the rolling English countryside.