Alison Balsom Trumpeter

Alison Balsom Trumpeter

Artistic Director of Cheltenham Festival


Baroness Helen Kennedy, recently profiled in The Times, has said.
“If you want something done get a busy woman.”

Alison Balsam is a pretty busy woman, as the new Artistic Director of the Cheltenham Festival from next year.  But the very best part of her plan is that all participants should be committed to education. Like many musicians, and educators, she is appalled at the gradual decline of music and music teaching in schools, not because it make s kids learn better, but because it enriches and excites their lives, which creates a fertile ground for good education.   Not data driven testing.

Now she is taking on the Cheltenham Festival , so we look to see great programming.   She doesn’t believe in theming the festival, because it becomes restrictive.   Just get the very best musicians. sounds like a plan.

We know that women traditionally are expected to be modest, down playing their achievements, Quiet and polite you should be, but the first sound anyone makes with a brass mouth piece is a raspberry. How very unladylike. So the brass section of an orchestra, the miners’ bands up north, the brass section of the Queens Regiments were all burly men. Women were not accepted or expected in the brass section.

Yet suddenly here we have Alison Balsom bursting up on the scene. Petite, blonde with a sweet sound which is truly “brilliant”, yet can be soft, seductive or mournful.

“The world of classical music was until very recently the preserve of white men…But over the past few decades, the classical music world has undergone a revolution.  Screens were erected between the committee and the auditioner, and as these new rules were put in place around the country, an extraordinary thing happened: orchestras began to hire women. In the last few years women brass In the last few years women brass players have gone up 5 fold.”
Blink Malcolm Gladwell.

However, no matter how brilliant your playing, trumpet concertos and solo pieces are far and few between, so it’s necessary, either to re write compositions for the trumpet, or commission new works written for you.   Or as Alison did , you can go to the Globe and ask them to write a piece of theatre. True entrepreneurial spirit. The resulting, exciting, bawdy, story of the trumpet in Purcell’s time, shows historical documented incidents woven into the narrative, interspersed with sung, dance and played pieces. Queen Charlotte’s own singer actually married her a wife, to great scandal at court.


In this age of Austerity, when many women are made redundant, or forced into part time or even zero hours (and men), it is a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs. Find your talent, find your market, do your planning. You have more talent than you know, more talent than is recognized.

Take a deep breath and blow, not the raspberry, but the loud clear sound which says follow me! Blow your own trumpet to success.



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