What Fiona Asbury does depends on exactly which day you’re asking. Her versatility has resulted in her being in demand not only as a classical musician but also a jazz, pop and electronica player. She plays flute, clarinet and keyboards, isn't afraid to whack out some backing vocals, composes, mimes regularly on TV, and can step left and right whilst clicking her fingers.
One minute she could be all elbows and eyebrows, giving classical recitals in prestigious concert venues; the next, preening some victory rolls and saluting 1940s swing in The Bombshellettes. She might be performing at 1am in a derelict factory in Estonia with a dark Electronica band. Or she could be counting hundreds of bars' rest before a short solo in some of the UK's finest orchestras. Then again, she might be belting out pop licks over a DJ set in the ruins of an old Lebanese monastery. Or teaching a young offender how to play samba rhythms.
Suffice to say, she pinches herself every day when she realises what a hugely enjoyable and varied career she is lucky enough to lead. Here’s an attempt to sum it up…
Having received an Associated Board (ABRSM) bursary to study at the Royal Northern College of Music, Fiona went on to graduate with a First Class Honours degree as well as the RNCM's prestigious Professional Performance diploma. Consequently the ABRSM awarded her the Macklin Bursary for Outstanding ABRSM Scholar.
As a soloist Fiona won the First London Saxophone Competition in 2006, and subsequently performed Michael Nyman’s Shaping The Curve with the London Saxophone Festival Orchestra at The Warehouse in London. In 2007 she was named a Park Lane Group Young Artist. This lead to appearances at prestigious venues such as London’s Purcell Room, St. James' Piccadilly and St. Martin-in-the-Fields.
As her school report confirms, Fiona also plays nicely with other people. As alto player with the Veya Saxophone Quartet, she broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 as part of the BBC Proms 2004. In 2006 the group went on to perform at the Purcell Room in London, as part of the Park Lane Group Young Concert Artists, in Scotland, as winners of the Tunnell Trust Award, and in America, on a tour funded by the Hattori Foundation. Their two albums are now available via their website veyasaxophonequartet.co.uk
Meanwhile, Fiona also moonlights with another saxophone quartet; the all-female, London-based Marici Saxes. In their short time together they have performed at major corporate events and awards ceremonies in London and Edinburgh, as well as giving various recitals, from the grand resonant cavities of the National Portrait Gallery to the beautiful and intricate Village Church in Chiddingly, as part of their annual arts festival. Their combined interest in new music has seen them work closely with the composition students at Surrey University.
Fiona’s orchestral experience includes performances with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Aurora Ensemble as well as performances and education work with Derby-based orchestra, Sinfonia ViVA.
Armed with her hairspray, Fiona is tenor player with the 15-piece all-female swing orchestra, The Bombshellettes. This truly unique bevy of beauties is now in great demand following some fantastic performances at both Lovebox and the Vintage festivals. Johnny Depp liked it, so you'd be a fool not to visit thebombshellettes.com
With such a wide range of musical influences in her life, rather than commissioning composers to realise the music that was in her head, it seemed a better idea to turn to herself and her great friend and producer, Matt Steele. Together, they are working on a ground-breaking collaboration of strange and beautiful orchestral electronic music. The pair have already been fortunate enough to perform some of the music with a 10-piece string orchestra and full rhythm section at the RNCM's Saxophone Day 2010. An album will follow in the near future (promise...)
As for 2011, highlights include a European Tour with the incredible Janine Rostron and her amazing electronica band, Planningtorock.
That'll do for now. Check back soon.