Jonathan Radford


Jonathan’s Music Story

Coming from a non-musical family, Jonathan began playing the flute at age 8 before the saxophone soon became his main passion. From the age of 13 he was selected to study at the prestigious Chetham’s School of Music, and completed all ABRSM Diplomas by age 16.

Jonathan then moved to France to study with Claude Delangle at the world-renowned Paris Conservatoire. After completing Bachelor and Master degrees, Jonathan then moved back to London and was awarded the Mills William Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, studying with Kyle Horch.

During his studies, Jonathan was a prize-winner in many international competitions including the SaxOpen International Competition (Strasbourg, France) and Concorso Internazionale de Musica Marco (Fiorindo, Italy). Jonathan was notably named Commonwealth Musician of the Year, Gold Medallist and First Prize winner in the 2018 Royal Overseas League Music Competition, and was featured as a ‘Rising Star’ in BBC Music Magazine.

Considered one of the leading classical saxophonists of his generation, Jonathan is in high demand internationally as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. He has performed in major venues internationally, such as Wigmore Hall, Southbank centre, Philharmonie de Paris and Seoul Arts Center. As well as maintaining a private teaching studio he has given masterclasses and workshops at the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Chetham’s School of Music, Melbourne Conservatory and Nice Conservatoire.

"I think it is important as a teacher to be open to different approaches and not push a student to play something they really do not want to play"

You have learnt from music colleges in France and England. What would you say the main differences are and what would be your tips to someone considering going to learn in a different country?

The aesthetics of saxophone playing are quite different in both countries, this has really shaped my identity as a performer and teacher. My main tip for anyone considering learning in a different country is to really immerse yourself in the culture and environment.

How did you fund your training?

I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive wonderful support from the Mills Williams Foundation, the Royal Over-Seas League, the Hattori Foundation (Senior Soloist Award), the Musicians’ Company (Maisie Lewis Young Artist) and Help Musicians UK (Ian Fleming Award).

When is a good time for a child to start the saxophone?

If you have a child keen on playing saxophone it is best to wait until they have their adult teeth. There are lighter versions of the instruments available, which can help children to start a little earlier.  The benefit of learning the saxophone is that from the first lesson you will be able to make a decent sound, this can really motivate people to continue learning.

So, what are you like as a teacher?

I was encouraged to teach while studying and so have been teaching since the age of 18! I think it is important as a teacher to be open and to recognise what a student is trying to achieve e.g. are they playing for fun or are they preparing for an exam or music college? It’s essential to find the right approach with each student. I enjoy teaching a variety of different people, from children to retired people just starting up the saxophone.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Performing all over the world has been a huge highlight but winning the Gold Medal at the 2018 Royal Overseas League Annual Music Competition at Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank Centre must be one of the most significant moments in my career so far.  Performing at Wigmore Hall in 2016 was also a great honour.

What saxophone pieces would you recommend people listen to, to inspire them to play?

Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky

Symphonic Dances from Rachmaninoff

Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin


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