Praised for her ‘flawless and accomplished’ performances (Peterborough Telegraph) and ‘honest and genuine music-making’ (D’Addario Competition), Gillian Blair enjoys a varied career as a classical saxophonist, chamber musician and educator. She has won first prize in competitions including the International Young Musician Competition at the Llangollen Eisteddfod, the D'addario Single Reed Competition, the RNCM Woodwind Competition, the Charles Scarratt Award for Young Musicians and the RNCM's Sir John Manduell Prize.
As a soloist, she has performed around Europe, North America and Asia at festivals and concert series' including the BBC Proms, EurSax, Koganei Miyajigakki Hall (Tokyo), PepsiCo Recital Hall (Texas), University of Arkansas, World Saxophone Congress, Oklahoma State University, North American Saxophone Alliance Conference, the Palaver Festival and several broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. She has appeared as a guest soloist with ensembles including the Band of the Coldstream Guards, Commonwealth String Orchestra, Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra, University of Arkansas Saxophone Ensemble, City of Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, Wirral Symphony Orchestra, Bolton Chamber Orchestra, the RNCM Percussion Ensemble and the RNCM Saxophone Orchestra. Future concerto appearances include the premieres of new concertos by Natasha Senanayake and Paul Carroll which have been commissioned for her and the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra, as well as a new commission from Lucy Armstrong which will be premiered in 2020.
Gillian is a keen advocate of new music and has commissioned numerous works as a soloist and for her various chamber ensembles from emerging and established composers including Gary Carpenter, Zack Browning, Andrew Boss, Lucy Armstrong, Tom Harrold, Lucy Pankhurst, Paul Mitchell-Davidson, Grace Evangeline Mason, Rob Buckland and Melissa Douglas.
Lauryna began her piano studies at the age of 5, entering the M.K Ciurlionis School of Arts in Vilnius Lithuania, two years later, studying with Jurate Karosaite. She began to give public recitals at a very early age and by the time she was 15 had already accumulated many prizes and honours in various competitions including prestigious national awards from the Czech Republic and Lithuania. She graduated from the Vilnius Conservatoire in 1998 after having studied with Professor Birute Vainiunaite.
Since graduating she has given many recitals internationally as a piano soloist, as a chamber musician and as an accompanist. Some of her most memorable concerts would include the performing of Vainiunas’ Piano Concerto together with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Lithuania in 1991 (at the age of 15); in 1997 playing Schumann’s Piano Quintet Op.44 in E major with the Vilnius Quartet as part of the Young Talents of Lithuania season and in 1998 and performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 in B minor together with the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Lithuania in the Philharmonic Hall in Vilnius (the last two of these performances were also broadcast on national radio