“A player with a difference…” “…her phrasing is beautifully finished, her control of dynamic infinitely subtle”
“Music always needs great communicators, and here’s one whose captivating instrumental voice could open up a whole new world”
Twice Grammy-nominated Amy Dickson made history by becoming the first saxophonist and the first Australian to win the 2013 MasterCard Breakthrough Artist of the Year Classic Brit Award. She won the award with her third album released on Sony Music which had previously attained the coveted No. 1 position in the UK classical charts. Before then, having become a recipient of the James Fairfax Australian Young Artist of the Year award, Amy had won major competitions including the Gold Medal at the Royal Overseas League Competition, the Symphony Australia Young Performer of the Year Competition and the Prince’s Prize. No saxophonist had ever won any of these titles before.
Since arriving on UK shores, Sydney-born Amy has spearheaded something of a classical saxophone revival, on account of her unique take on the genre and her distinctive approach to the instrument. Since the success of her No. 1 chart album Dusk & Dawn, Amy has been touring internationally with pit-stops back home in London for brief appearances on TV including performances on BBC Breakfast and The One Show. Classic FM have called her “a talent to watch” and Gramophone “a player with a difference”.
Amy Dickson began lessons at the age of six and made her concerto debut ten years later. Recognized widely for her remarkable and distinctive tone and exceptional musicality, she has performed throughout the world, in prestigious venues such as the Wigmore Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House, as a soloist with many orchestras including the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Amy also performs regularly with string quartets such as the Chilingirian and the Mandelring.
Although now based in London, Dickson was born in Sydney where she made her concerto debut aged 16, playing the Dubois Concerto. On her 18th birthday she recorded the Dubois Divertissement with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The following year she moved to London where she took the Jane Melber Scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music with Kyle Horch and the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Arno Bornkamp.
In 2005 and 2011 she performed for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings at the Teatru Manoel in Valetta, Malta and the Perth Concert Hall, Australia. She has also performed at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh; St James’ Palace, London and for former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard at Parliament House, Canberra. In great demand as a recitalist, she has worked with pianists Catherine Milledge, Martin Cousin, Danny Driver and Huw Watkins in venues including the Wigmore Hall, the Bridgewater Hall, and in festivals throughout the world.
Dickson has released five critically acclaimed recordings for Sony Music. Her first, Smile, was released in 2008 and led Gramophone magazine to write: “She has an individual and unusual tone, luscious, silky-smooth, sultry and voluptuous by turns; her phrasing is beautifully finished, her control of dynamic infinitely subtle. She plays very songfully, is often gentle and restrained, at times sounding like the chalumeaux of a clarinet. But she can rise to a passionate climax, as in Danza de la moza donosa, or slinkily respond to Debussy’s La plus que lente.”
Her second album, Glass, Tavener, Nyman, comprises of the Violin Concerto No. 1 by Philip Glass and The Protecting Veil by John Tavener, both arranged by Dickson. It also includes Where the Bee Dances by Michael Nyman. Of all Glass Violin Concerto recordings ever made, BBC Music Magazine wrote “Amy Dickson’s arrangement for soprano saxophone actually works better than the original…the fast passages sound crisper; the bubbling arpeggios and long slow notes have new varied textures…the insistent solo interjections in the finale now pierce the orchestra…”
It was her third CD Dusk & Dawn, that won her the 2013 MasterCard Breakthrough Artist of the Year Classic Brit Award and reached No. 1 in the UK classical charts. Featuring twelve graceful and elegantly performed tracks, Dusk & Dawn includes Fauré’s Pavane, Chopin’s Nocturne and Bellini’s Casta Diva as well as evergreen standards such as ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ and ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’. Amy makes playing the saxophone a beautiful, gentle and sensual experience and Dusk & Dawn, which is the epitome of late night classical listening at its very best, showcases a brand-new soundworld for Amy’s beloved instrument where the shimmering strings and sensual saxophone arrangements evoke the stylish cinema of the 1960s and early 70s.
Released in 2013 Amy’s album Catch Me If You Can features contemporary classical music for saxophone and orchestra. Amy performs alongside the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra on the album. It includes John Williams’ Escapades, Michael Kamen’s Concerto for Saxophone (the score for which was personally given to Amy by Michael Kamen’s family) and Mark Knopfler’s iconic score for the 1983 film ‘Local Hero’ arranged by Jessica Wells.
Amy’s latest Sony release A Summer Place has earned her another Grammy nomination for one of the tracks ‘Moon River’ arranged by the talented Chris Walden.
May 2015 will see the release of a stunning all-Australian album for saxophone and orchestra entitled “Island Songs”. Recorded with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, all works on the album were written / arranged specifically for Amy by three of the greatest ever Australian composers Brett Dean, Ross Edwards and the late Peter Sculthorpe.
Dickson has made a number of world premiere recordings. With the Royal Scottish National Orchestra she has recorded Holbrooke’s saxophone concerto and Bennett’s Seven Country Dances. She has also made recordings of McDowall’s concerto Dancing Fish, Larsson’s Konzert and Dubois’ Divertissment, and has appeared on Bollywood composer Mithoon Sharma’s album Tu Hi Mere Rab Ki Tarah Hai.
She is deeply committed to the development of new repertoire for the saxophone, whilst also championing existing repertoire. She has been the dedicatee of new works, and has arranged existing works from other instrumental repertoire. She has made a substantial contribution to the orchestral, chamber and solo repertoire. Other composers who have written for her include Graham Fitkin, Steve Martland and Huw Watkins.
2015 will see Amy joining the Scottish Ensemble for a UK tour including concerts in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Wigmore Hall, London. She will also be performing in Berlin, Tokyo, Sydney, Canberra and the US.
Amy Dickson is an Ambassador of the Australian Children’s Music Foundation, the Prince’s Trust, the Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts, Vandoren and is a Selmer Paris Performing Artist as well as being a Brand ambassador for REN skincare.
“Here is the sax on tiptoe, stretching for the stars utterly divorced from its natural swoops and dives and brassy stomps…. Under Dickson’s tutelage, the saxophone may rejoin its woodwind compatriots at the top of the classical canon”. Rebecca Lowe, Musolife.com