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Jordan Ashman

Cheltenham Festival Spotlight: BBC Young Musician
St George's Church
Cheltenham
Tuesday 11th July


Jordan Ashman gained widespread critical acclaim in winning the 2022 BBC Young Musician of the Year title. 

His performance of Jennifer Higdon’s ‘Percussion Concerto’  accompanied by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra heralded the emergence of a talent able to cross genres with an ease of lucid musical communication.  

Since then, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire student has maintained a busy schedule of concert appearances – the latest, this hour-long recital full of eager engagement and mature stylistic consideration on works from eight contemporary composers.

Elegant

In an age when slick PR produced personality can easily exceed raw talent, it was a joy to be able to listen to a performer who has the latter in abundance and rather nonchalantly eschews the former (he spent considerable time with youngsters after the concert showing them around his instruments).  

The art of the recital is to balance both showmanship and craftsmanship, and the 19-year-old displayed an elegant ability to engage visually as well as aurally – the flashing beaters and sticks held aloft for a spilt second of poise rather than pose.  

The art of the recital is to balance both showmanship and craftsmanship, and the 19-year-old displayed an elegant ability to engage visually as well as aurally – the flashing beaters and sticks held aloft for a spilt second of poise rather than pose.  

His introductions may have been delightfully non-specific, but the playing was never less than intensely brilliant in scope, dynamic and texture – from vibraphone and marimba to the full panoply of drums and even his mum’s wine cooler.  

Intoxicating

It made for a series of intoxicating performances; the oily inflections of Glentworth’s ‘Blues for Gilbert’  contrasting with the pianist precision of Cheung’s ‘Etude in E Minor’,   the austere rhythmic structures of Koshinksi’s ‘Caleidoscopio’  against the romantic swish of Ignatowicz’s ‘Toccata’.      

Gerassimez’s ‘Asventuras’,  Cameron Sinclair’s ‘Automata’  and Matthew Lock’s ‘Odessa’  each allowed a wide berth freedom of expression and excitement whilst the UK premiere of ‘Flex’  by Anna Meredith was simply a delight.

Much like the BBC Young Musician winners in whose footsteps he follows, Jordan Ashman is a substantive solo artist in the making.

Jerry Waddington 

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