Kenneth Wilkinson

Kenneth Wilkinson

Saxophonist Composer Teacher


The Princess and the Pea

A couple of weeks ago my alto saxophone wasn’t working properly. I’d tried Read more ...

New design for website

I decided that my (this) website needed something, a change of colour perhaps? So I took Read more ...

Quirk; after the event

The Quirk quartet performed twice at the Saxophone Day, hosted by the University of Read more ...

Triadic Chromatic Approach to improvisation

Whenever you get a bunch of musicians together, usually someone shares a revelation related to the music. The trombonist Richard Baker told me about an improvisation technique that the tenor Read more ...

I trained as a classical clarinettist at the Leeds College of Music in the 1980s, at the same time pursuing my love of jazz as a jazz saxophonist. After graduation I embarked on what might now be called a 'portfolio' career.

The classical side of my playing career involved performing with wind quintets, touring opera companies, and solo recitals; the well trodden route of most classical musicians. I joined the National Festival Orchestra and stayed with that ensemble for twenty years, playing regularly at major venues in the UK (Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Philharmonic Hall, The Sage).

My fascination with jazz led to various projects; my jazz quartet based on the work of the jazz clarinettist Buddy De Franco, travelling across Europe as an alto saxophone player in the Without Words big band, and in the UK in the Big Bad Big Band. The commercial side to my career involved many hours sitting in studios playing whatever was placed in front of me; usually involving the whole saxophone family, clarinets, flutes and piccolo.

I spent more time than I should have working in various theatre orchestras around the UK (including 'The Good Old Days' theatre the City Varieties, and the London Palladium) and music for dance companies, such as the Northern Dance Company. Over the years my performances have included live performances on the BBC and ITV networks, I've made seven CDs of various genres, and worked with luminaries such as Lesley Garrett and Sir Tim Rice.

This somewhat varied career led to an epiphany during a drive to a performance at the Bridgewater Hall in 2012. I realised that I had become disenchanted with my situation, playing every genre, and being unable to focus on one project. There seemed before me a choice of giving up music, or changing the path I was following.

This led to a decision to focus on classical saxophone, and so I enrolled at the University of Huddersfield to pursue my second degree. There I met Sarah Markham the classical saxophone teacher, a Yamaha and Vandoren performing artist. That meeting changed my life.

I graduated (in 2016) with a First Class honours degree in Music Performance and Composition, also being awarded the Chancellor’s Prize for outstanding student, and the William’s prize for woodwind. During that period I performed with contemporary music groups, working with James Weekes (EXAUDI), Antoine Beuger (wandelweiser group), Philip Corner (composer), and the Edges ensemble.

My renaissance continues as I focus on the saxophone and composition. I am a member of several classical saxophone chamber ensembles, and I perform regularly, including recent recitals at the World Saxophone Congress in 2015 (Strasbourg), and at the upcoming World Congress (2018) in Croatia.

My partner Sarah Markham and I formed Quirk. This ensemble explores French classical saxophone, contemporary music, jazz, and the fusion of those genres. Quirk consists of a Duo (Sarah and myself), a quartet (adding Sarah Hind on baritone and Chris Jolly on tenor), and an octet.

The inspiring professors at the University of Huddersfield encouraged me towards composition (thank you Dr Richard Glover and Dr Bryn Harrison). As I gradually ease myself into this new experience I limit my compositions to the saxophone, and saxophone ensemble. My recent works have premiered at the World Saxophone Congress, University Purdue Fort Wayne USA, University of Huddersfield and the Royal College of Music London. My second saxophone quartet will be performed by Quirk at the World Congress in Croatia (2018). You can download scores from this website, I will be adding more resources to the website as I adapt files to a downloadable format.

Currently I am completing a Masters by Research, investigating the intersection between a composer and a performer. This includes discussions of notational prescription, culture, and the expectations placed upon the performer, with a focus on French classical saxophone.

Subscribe to keep up to date with the Quirk ensemble, or saxophone compositions added to the site:

Kenneth Wilkinson

TEACHING


Saxophonist
Composer
Teacher
Feel free to use the contact form to discuss having lessons in my teaching studio (classical and jazz). An audio system is available to record and listen to material we study.
Workshop

WORKSHOPS


Workshops relate to, and improve, your instrumental performance. Recent workshop sessions include:

How do I sound like that?
An exploration of mouthpieces and reeds (classical and jazz), timbre and sound production.

A safe, non-threatening, comfortable approach to improvisation!

An introduction to jazz improvisation for (often anxious) players, with little or no experience.

Reed Alteration

A workshop demonstrating techniques to hone and fine tune your reeds.
Quirk Duo

QUIRK DUO


The Quirk Duo is saxophonists Sarah Markham (Yamaha and Vandoren performing artist), and Kenneth Wilkinson. Between them they have a performing career spanning sixty years, enjoying many genres including solo recitals, opera, orchestral, jazz, pop and chamber music. The Quirk Duo is a distillation of those experiences, an exploration of possibilities.
Quirk Saxophone Quartet

QUIRK SAXOPHONE QUARTET


The Quirk Saxophone Quartet is made up of like-minded saxophonists:

Sarah Markham - soprano
Kenneth Wilkinson - alto
Chris Jolly - tenor
Sarah Hind - baritone