Hailed as a “pioneering instrumentalist and writer” and praised for his “surpassingly beautiful music” and “undoubtedly brilliant mind”, British saxophonist Alastair Penman is a dynamic and versatile performer and composer, presenting contemporary music in new and exciting ways. Having earned masters’ degrees in both Information and Computer Engineering (University of Cambridge) and Saxophone Performance (Royal Northern College of Music), Alastair has a strong interest in the fusion of live saxophone performance with electronic effects, backings, and enhancements to create often previously undiscovered sound-worlds.
Although classically trained, Alastair enjoys exploring many musical worlds; such influences can be heard in his compositions and performances, which often transcend genre definition.
As a soloist, Alastair has performed at venues including St Martin-in-the-Fields, St John’s Smith Square, Milton Court and Trinity College Chapel. He has been a guest recitalist at the RNCM and Canterbury Christ Church University Saxophone Days, and at European and World Saxophone Congresses. Alastair’s solo albums Electric Dawn (Sospiro Records, 2015), Do You Hear Me? (Sospiro Records, 2020) and Soar (Meadowbank Music, 2023) (https://alastairpenman.bandcamp.com/album/soar) have been described as “totally engaging”, “a superb mix of sounds” and “an extended dazzling display of talent” and they have received airplay on BBC Radio and internationally.
In an ensemble setting Alastair leads the award-winning Borealis Saxophone Quartet, with whom he has given numerous live performances on BBC Radio 3, and he also plays baritone saxophone with the Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet. Alastair has performed with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra and Royal Ballet Sinfonia and has appeared with jazz groups at Montreux and London Jazz Festivals as well as at jazz clubs across Europe.
As a composer, Alastair has been commissioned by organisations including Park Lane Group, RVW Trust and City Music Foundation, and his compositions can be heard on commercially available recordings. Alastair’s works have been performed extensively in the UK, and have also received performances in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Australasia. Over twenty of Alastair’s compositions are published by Saxtet Publications, and many more are self-published. Six of Alastair’s compositions appear on the current ABRSM and Trinity Saxophone Syllabuses.
As an educator, Alastair has been a Professor of Saxophone at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama since 2020 (previously Visiting Professor of Saxophone and Electronics, 2018-20) and has taught classes at the Royal Northern College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as well as internationally at UCLA and Cal State Fullerton (USA). Alastair is a regular tutor for Benslow Music, has been a guest tutor for the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain and has taught students for University of Cambridge and University of Liverpool. Alastair acted as editor, notation specialist, and model for John Harle’s seminal book The Saxophone (Faber). Alastair runs a YouTube Channel, Saxophone Resources, which contains educational resources and receives over 40,000 views each month (and has exceeded 3.5 million total views).Alastair is a City Music Foundation Artist, Park Lane Group Artist, BBC Introducing Artist, Live Music Now Artist, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and has won awards from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, RNCM and St. Catharine’s College.