The English trumpeter, Alison Louise Balsom, began study of the trumpet in her early childhood. She attended Tannery Drift Primary School, then the Greneway Middle School (where she began lessons with Adrian Jacobs at 9) and the Meridian School, all in Royston, Hertfordshire, where she played in a brass band, the Royston Town Band. She took her A-levels at Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge. From age 13, she studied in the Junior department at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where her most important teacher was John Miller. From ages 15-18 she played in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and from 1997 to 2001 she studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her teachers included Stephen Keavy and Paul Benniston. Later studies were at the Paris Conservatoire of Music and Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She also studied privately with Håkan Hardenberger from 2001 to 2004. During her student years she played in several orchestral ensembles, became a concerto finalist in the 1998 BBC Young Musicians Competition, and received the Feeling Musique Prize for quality of sound in the 2001 Maurice André International Trumpet Competition.
Alison Balsom’s highly distinctive sound earned her much recognition in her early career when she mainly reached her audience through radio broadcasts under the auspices of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme. She has been a professional classical trumpeter since 2001, and has gained wide international recognition since the turn of the century. Following the release of her first album on EMI, she quickly became major events across England, Europe, Asia, and the USA. She must be counted among the most popular Classical trumpeters before the public today. Of course, her supermodel looks and charismatic manner haven't hurt her career, but in the end it has been her talent on the trumpet, forged by an all-encompassing technique and deft interpretive sense, that landed her at the top. Balsom performs a wide range of recital and concerto repertoire, from Tomaso Albinoni to Zimmermann, taking in a mixture of original works and arrangements of music by J.S. Bach, Purcell, Haydn, Mozart, Hummel, Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninov, de Falla, Messiaen, and many others. She performs on both modern and baroque trumpets. Her main trumpet is a Malone-converted Bach C Trumpet.
In 2006, Alison Balsom won 'Young British Classical Performer' at the 2006 Classical BRIT Awards and was awarded the 'Classic FM Listeners' Choice Award' at the Classic FM Gramophone Awards. She won 'Female Artist of the Year' at the 2009 and 2011 Classical BRIT Awards. She has also been honoured with other numerous awards by Gramophone, Classic FM and ECHO Klassik. In 2009, she headlined one of classical music’s most celebrated concerts - The Last Night of the BBC Proms, performing as a soloist, among other pieces, Haydn's Trumpet Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and a jazz orientated arrangement of George Gershwin's They Can't Take That Away from Me with mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly. The event reached its biggest ever global television audience of an estimated 200 million. In December 2010 Balsom went on to make her USA television debut with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s on The Late Show with David Letterman - a platform few classical artists have gained access to.
The 2011-2012 season sees Alison Balsom make return visits to China where she performs with Lorin Maazel and the National Symphony Orchestra and to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra with whom she makes her Hollywood Bowl debut. Other season highlights include concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Wiener Symphoniker, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Further ahead, Balsom will embark on major international tours with I Musici di Roma, the Scottish Ensemble, Kremerata Baltica, Kammerorchester Basel and Concerto Köln.
In addition to transcribing and arranging existing works for her instrument, Alison Balsom is increasingly active in commissioning new works for trumpet. Her world premiere performance of James MacMillan’s Seraph at Wigmore Hall in February 2011 went on to become the title track of her latest release for EMI Classics. Her concert schedule reflects her in-demand status with tours at major venues in Europe, the USA, and elsewhere around the world. Yet, she also is open to new creative endeavours. Balsom assumed the lead role in the play Gabriel, produced at Shakespeare's Globe in the summer of 2013. She was the principal trumpet of the London Chamber Orchestra.
While represented by the Young Concert Artists Trust, Alison caught the ear of EMI Classics with whom she records exclusively. She released her debut album, “Music for Trumpet and Organ”, in 2002. In 2005, she released her second disc, “Bach Works for Trumpet”, to rave reviews. Her third album, “Caprice” was released in September 2006 and was awarded 'Solo CD of the Year 2006' by Brass Band World magazine. Her next album, featuring the great pillars of the trumpet repertoire, the concertos of Haydn and Hummel, firmly established her as one of the world’s leading trumpeters. “Italian Concertos” which is made up of Balsom’s own arrangements of Italian Baroque Concertos became EMI Classics biggest selling album of 2010.
Alison Balsom is a Visiting Professor of Trumpet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has a keen interest in yachting. From 2009 to early 2011 she dated British conductor Edward Gardner; in early 2010 they had a baby boy named Charlie.