This Classical Life: Live returns! BBC Radio 3 presenter and saxophonist Jess Gillam brings her show to life with two concerts featuring a host of musical stars at The Old Woollen in Leeds on 25 May with the BBC Philharmonic, and at Alexandra Palace Theatre in London on 21 June, with the BBC Concert Orchestra.

This Classical Life is an ARIA-Award winning BBC radio show and podcast. Every week, Jess Gillam sits down with another musical guest for a listening party and chat about the music they love most from any era, genre or style. In the live show, the spirit will be the same with an eclectic array of guest performers and live conversations on-stage.

On 25 May, in a concert conducted by Ellie Slorach, the BBC Philharmonic and Jess Gillam are joined by special guests including pianist and composer Belle Chen bringing her captivating blend of classical, avant-garde, world, electronica, and sound-art to the stage; and multi-instrumentalist and composer Erland Cooper whose work takes inspiration from the natural world, memory, people and place.

On the 21 June the BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor Jonathan Bloxham will be joined by internationally acclaimed trumpeter and former Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Simon Höfele, and one of the UK’s most exciting talents on the contemporary classical scene, soprano Ella Taylor. Award-winning composer, arranger and saxophonist, Cassie Kinoshi will also speak to Jess Gillam on-stage, and the BBC Concert Orchestra will perform one of Cassie’s orchestral pieces in all its glory.

Jess is passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music and believes that good music is good music regardless of the genre or label. On her BBC Radio 3 show, audiences may hear The Prodigy next to Prokofiev, Hildegard von Bingen next to Björk, Mendelssohn next to Michael Kiwanuka – but there is one thing all of the sounds have in common: an ability to move us, transport us and connect us with alternative realities.

Jess Gillam commented, ‘‘To see the radio show come to life at the Royal Festival Hall last July was really special and I’m so excited to repeat the format again with another line-up of guests. The programme celebrates musical passions and influences from all genres and styles, which makes every radio programme and live show unique. Each guest artist will bring something entirely different to the concert and to hear their artistry paired with the full forces of the BBC Philharmonic and the BBC Concert Orchestra will be a kaleidoscopic experience.’

The concerts will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds on Wednesday 5 July (BBC Philharmonic) and Sunday 10 July (BBC Concert Orchestra).

Tickets for This Classical Life: Live on 25 May are available to purchase here.

Tickets for This Classical Life: Live on 21 June will be available in May via

About Jess Gillam

Hailing from Ulverston in Cumbria, Jess Gillam is animating the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality. She has been forging her own adventurous path since she shot to fame becoming the first saxophonist to reach the finals of BBC Young Musician and the youngest ever soloist to perform at the Last Night of the Proms. Passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music, Jess invites audiences on journeys of musical discovery through her electrifying performances and eclectic programming.

As well as performing around the world, Jess is a presenter on TV and Radio. She became the youngest ever presenter for BBC Radio 3 with the launch of her own weekly show, This Classical Life. The show is in its third year now and in 2020 won the prestigious ARIA Award for Best Specialist Music Show. In July 2021 Jess presented a special live edition of This Classical Life at the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. She has also been a guest presenter for BBC Radio 2 and co-hosted a miniseries for BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Keen to explore the creative output of her home county, Jess presented a series of Cumbrian Chats on BBC Radio Cumbria. TV presenting includes the BBC Proms and BBC Young Musician.

Jess is the first ever saxophonist to be signed exclusively to Decca Classics and both of her albums reached No.1 in the UK Classical Music Charts. Her debut album was listed in The Times Top 100 albums of 2019. She has been the recipient of a Classic BRIT Award, has been nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award and was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2021 for Services to Music.

A free spirit in style and character, Jess is an advocate for the power of music in society. She is passionate about inspiring and bringing joy to people through music and during lockdown, she formed her ‘Virtual Scratch Orchestra’, inviting musicians of any standard to come together to play music virtually with her. The orchestra played music by David Bowie and The Beatles as well as a Christmas special of Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sleigh Ride’. Over 2,000 people from around 30 different countries took part across the two projects, aged 2-94, playing a huge range of instruments.

Jess is a patron for Awards for Young Musicians and London Music Fund and enjoys working and performing with young musicians.

Her infectious enthusiasm and passion for classical and non-classical music lights up every stage and she has performed in prestigious concert halls and with world-class orchestras around the globe including the NDR Hannover, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the UK’s leading orchestras. She also enjoys touring with her newly-formed Jess Gillam Ensemble bringing together a group of brilliant musicians who share her bold, uplifting and open-minded approach. Jess has performed live at the BAFTAs to millions of viewers at home.

Jess is currently Artist in Residence at the Wigmore Hall, an European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) Rising Star which sees her performing at many of the top concert halls across Europe and she continues to promote her own concert series, bringing international talent to her hometown of Ulverston.

Jess is a Vandoren UK Artist and became the youngest ever endorsee for Yanagisawa Saxophones aged just 13.

About the BBC Concert Orchestra

The mission of the BBC Concert Orchestra is to bring inspiring musical experiences to everyone, everywhere. The orchestra can be heard on BBC Radio 2’s Sunday Night Is Music Night and for BBC Radio 3 it explores a wide selection of music, ranging from classical to contemporary. The orchestra has performed on many soundtracks, including Blue Planet and Serengeti for BBC One and for George the Poet’s award-winning podcast for BBC Sounds. In February 2021 it performed for the BBC One and BBC Radio 2 national celebration of musical theatre, Musicals: The Greatest Show.

The orchestra appears annually at the BBC Proms and is an Associate Orchestra at the Southbank Centre, where recent highlights include a performance under Principal Conductor Bramwell Tovey with trumpeter Yazz Ahmed as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, and a live version of the BBC Radio 3 programme Unclassified with Elizabeth Alker.

Along with its regular engagements throughout the UK, the orchestra tours internationally. The BBC Concert Orchestra, alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, BBC Singers and BBC Proms offer enjoyable and innovative education and community activities and take a leading role in the BBC Ten Pieces programme. It is a key partner in the BBC Young Composer competition and the newly launched BBC Open Music programme.

About the BBC Philharmonic

The BBC Philharmonic is reimagining the orchestral experience for a new generation – challenging perceptions, championing innovation and taking a rich variety of music to the widest range of audiences.

The orchestra usually performs around 100 concerts every year, the vast majority broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Along with around 35 free concerts a year at its MediaCityUK studio in Salford and a series of concerts at Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, the orchestra performs across the North of England, at the BBC Proms and internationally, and records regularly for the Chandos label.

The scope of the orchestra’s programme extends far beyond standard repertoire. Over the past few years, it has collaborated with artists as varied as Clean Bandit, Jarvis Cocker and The Wombats; played previously unheard music by writer-composer Anthony Burgess in a unique dramatisation of A Clockwork Orange; joined forces with chart-toppers The 1975 at Blackpool’s Tower Ballroom; premiered The Arsonists by composer Alan Edward Williams and poet Ian McMillan, the first opera ever written to be sung entirely in a Northern English dialect; and broadcast on all seven BBC national radio networks, from BBC Radio 1 to BBC Radio 6 Music and the BBC Asian Network. In 2020, the BBC Philharmonic also entered the UK Top 40 charts with Four Notes: Paul’s Tune.

The orchestra is pioneering new ways for audiences to engage with music and places learning and education at the heart of its mission. Outside of the concert hall, the BBC Philharmonic is passionate about taking music off the page and into the ears, hearts and lives of listeners of all ages and musical backgrounds – from award-winning interactive performances, Schools’ concerts, Higher Education work with the Royal Northern College of Music and the creation of teacher resources for BBC’s acclaimed Ten Pieces. Through all its activities, the BBC Philharmonic is bringing life-changing music experiences to audiences across Greater Manchester, the North of England, the UK and around the world.

About BBC Radio 3

  • We believe arts and music make the world a better place by bringing people together through shared experience and understanding, providing a place of inspiration, and a means to navigate a complex world.
  • At BBC Radio 3 we want to enable as many people as possible to have life changing musical and arts experiences. We aim to provide listeners with time out from a busy world through full-length artistic performances and slow radio that takes the time it takes.
  • We pride ourselves on being a commissioner and interpreter of complex culture; shining a new light on well-loved artistic works and investing in new artistic talent to bring cutting edge work to audiences everywhere.
  • We are one of the most significant commissioners of contemporary classical music anywhere in the world and the biggest broadcaster of live classical concerts including the BBC Proms.
  • From classical music to arts discussion, documentaries to essays, drama to sound art, video games and film music, to jazz, world, ambient, electronic and the avant-garde, there is a Radio 3 for everybody – we welcome you to join us on BBC Sounds, DAB, online, and on FM