Graham Ashton was born in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Music and is currently professor of trumpet in the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College, State University of New York.
As a soloist, he has appeared with orchestras around the world, including the BBC Symphony with Sir Andrew Davies and London Philharmonic with Sir George Solti, as well as English Chamber Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, National Symphony in Johannesburg, New York Virtuosi and Orchestra of Our Time. During the past 25 years, Prof. Ashton has also given more than 200 master classes and recitals in 21 countries. He has made eight acclaimed solo recordings for Virgin Classics, Nimbus, IMP Classics, Koch, and Claves with the English Chamber, English Symphony. and Irish Chamber Orchestras, and recorded Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto twice for EMI with London Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Ensemble.
Of his BBC award-winning CD The Contemporary Trumpet (Virgin Classics), Gramophone wrote: “Graham Ashton shows himself to be an acutely thoughtful musician: virtuosity is never regarded as an end in itself, the sound never brazen and he conveys an unswerving clarity of vision which should be admired beyond the confines of the brass world. ”
During the late 1980s and 1990s, Prof. Ashton was immersed in London’s vibrant studio scene where he recorded numerous film soundtracks, including Yentil; Never Say, Never Again; Octopussy; Chaplin; The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover; Batman; Dangerous Liaisons; Cry Freedom; and The Russia House. He also played on countless radio and TV jingles, and on commercial albums with Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Barbara Streisand, Phil Collins, Boy George, Van Morrison, and Elvis Costello. As an orchestral trumpeter, Prof. Ashton has, on numerous occasions, been invited to guest as principal trumpet with the BBC Symphony, London Symphony, Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, playing under such notables as Sir George Solti, Giannadi Rodjestvensky, Lorin Maazel, Carlo Guillini, Claudio Abbado, Ricardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, and Sir Colin Davis. Most recently, he was invited to play principal trumpet with a combined Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and MDR Sinfonieorchester in a performance and live recording of Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony.
Recognized universally for his commitment to brass chamber music, Prof. Ashton was a member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble from 1981 to 1984, with whom he made five records and performed throughout Europe, the U.S., Israel, and Japan. He formed his own group, the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble, in London in 1989 and reformed the ensemble with virtuoso brass players from New York City when he relocated to New York in 1999. Acclaimed as one of the world’s most innovative ensembles of its kind, the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble gave concerts throughout Europe, the U.S., Scandinavia, and Australia. They had performances broadcast by the BBC in London, WNYC in New York, and ABC in Sydney, and recorded five CDs for EMI Virgin, Sony, Signum, and Chandos. Their surround-sound recording for Sony-Sonoma was nominated to the final five in the 2005 Grammy Awards. In 2009, he formed New York Chamber Brass as a faculty-in-residence ensemble at Purchase College.
As a composer and arranger, Prof. Ashton has written music for film, theatre, and the concert platform. He has received commissions from several agencies, most recently from the Australian Embassy, Signum Records, SUNY Fredonia, and Sony Records. His music is published exclusively by Editions BIM in Switzerland and includes, among others, Miniatures and Dreamsuite, for brass quartet, and his two esoteric compositions, Birdsong, for didgeridoo, percussion, piano, and brass (recorded on the CD Scenes of Spirits for Signum Classics), and Sanus Inter Astra for brass quintet and piano with galactic sounds collected by Voyagers I and II during their journeys into outer space. Prof. Ashton’s latest composition is the music for G.W.Pabst’s 1925 silent movie Secrets of a Soul, based on Freudian interpretations of dreams.
In addition to his performing, teaching, and composing commitments, Prof. Ashton has designed a range of Graham Ashton Mouthpieces made by the Griego Mouthpiece Company, and is a consultant to the Getzen and Edwards Instrument Companies whose trumpets he helps design and plays exclusively.
Prof. Ashton spends any spare time he has with his wife and two daughters, all of whom enjoy exploring the culinary delights of different world cuisine. He listens mostly to Bach, Purcell, and any contemporary music that holds his attention. He loves paintings by Picasso, Hopper, Matisse, and Dali, and has a strong appreciation for the complexity of exceptional wine. Prof. Ashton is a director of the Granite Springs Music Society, a yearly summer festival dedicated to promoting exceptional chamber music, together with outrageously delicious food and wines.
Graham Ashton and Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble:
New York Chamber Brass: