Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble, The

Graham Ashton was born in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Music and is currently Professor of Trumpet at Purchase College, State University of New York. As a soloist, he has appeared with orchestras around the world including the BBC Symphony with Sir Andrew Davies and London Philharmonic with Sir George Solti, aswell as English Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony in Johannesburg, New York Virtuosi and Orchestra of Our Time. During the past twenty-five years, Mr. Ashton has also given over 200 masterclasses and recitals in 21 countries. He has made eight acclaimed solo recordings for Virgin Classics, Nimbus, IMP Classics, Koch and Claves with the English Chamber, English Symphony and Irish Chamber Orchestras, and recorded Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto twice for EMI with London Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Ensemble.

Of his BBC award-winning cd ‘The Contemporary Trumpet’ (Virgin Classics), The Gramophone wrote: “Graham Ashton shows himself to be an acutely thoughtful musician: virtuosity is never regarded as an end in itself, the sound never brazen and he conveys an unswerving clarity of vision which should be admired beyond the confines of the brass world”.

As an orchestral trumpeter, Mr. Ashton started his career in 1978 as co-principal trumpet with the Bournemouth Symphony in UK. In 1981, he was invited to tour Japan and China as co-principal trumpet with the BBC Symphony under Giannadi Rodjestvensky, and subsequently returned throughout the 1980 and 90s as guest principal with the BBC Symphony, London Symphony, Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, playing under such notables as Sir George Solti, Lorin Maazel, Carlo Guillini, Claudio Abbado, Ricardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Colin Davis. In 2006, Mr Ashton was invited to play guest principal trumpet in a performance and live recording of Richard Strauß’ Alpine Symphony performed by a combined Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and MDR Sinfonieorchester of Leipzig.

During the late 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Ashton was also immersed in London’s vibrant studio scene where he recorded numerous film soundtracks including Yentil, Never Say, Never Again, Octopussy, Chaplin, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Batman, Dangerous Liaisons, Cry Freedom, and The Russia House. He also played on countless radio and tv jingles, and on commercial albums with Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Barbara Streisand, Phil Collins, Boy George, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello.

Recognized universally for his commitment to brass chamber music, Mr. Ashton was a member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble from 1981-84 with whom he made 5 records and performed throughout Europe, USA, Israel and Japan. He formed his own group, the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble in London in 1989, and reformed the ensemble with virtuoso brass players from New York City when he relocated to New York in 1999. Acclaimed as one of the world’s most innovative ensembles of its kind, the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble gave concerts throughout Europe, USA, Scandinavia and Australia. They had performances broadcast by the BBC in London, WNYC in New York and ABC in Sydney, and recorded five cds for EMI Virgin, Sony, Signum and Chandos. Their surround-sound recording for Sony-Sonoma was nominated to the final five in the 2005 Grammy Awards.

As a composer and arranger, Mr. Ashton has written music for film, theatre and the concert platform. He has received commissions from a number of agencies, most recently from the Australian Embassy, Signum Records, SUNY Fredonia, Sony Records and the US Army Westpoint Academy. His music is published by GABE Publications in New York and Editions BIM in Switzerland, and includes, amongst others, Miniatures and Dreamsuite, for brass quartet, and his two esoteric compositions, Birdsong, for didgeridoo, percussion, piano and brass (recorded on the cd, Scenes of Spirits for Signum Classics), and Sanus Inter Astra for brass quintet and piano with galactic sounds collected by Voyagers I and II during their journeys into outer space. Most recently, Mr. Ashton composed the music for G. W. Pabst’s 1925 silent movie Secrets of a Soul, Fantasia for Trumpet and Organ (recorded on ‘In Recital at Tulle Cathedral’ for Signum Classics) and An Anthem for ANZAC Day for soprano, organ, brass quartet and didgeridoo, performed in April 2015 at the ANZAC 100th Anniversary Service at the National Cathedral in Washington DC.

In addition to his performing, teaching and composing commitments, Mr. Ashton designed his own range of Graham Ashton Mouthpieces and is a consultant to the Getzen and Edwards Instrument Companies whose trumpets he helps design and plays exclusively.

Mr. Ashton spends any spare time he has with his wife and two daughters, all of whom enjoy exploring the culinary delights of different world cuisine. He listens mostly to Bach, Purcell and any contemporary music that holds his attention. He loves paintings by Picasso, Hopper, Matisse and Dali, and has a strong appreciation for the complexity of exceptional wine. Mr. Ashton is a Director of the Granite Springs Music Society, a yearly summer festival dedicated to promoting exceptional chamber music, together with outrageously delicious food and wines.

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