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Illuminati - biography

illuminati biography

In 2002, four students at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, were brought together as a wind quartet to participate in the Carlisle Cathedral Composition Competition.  Recognising the challenge and enjoyment of the wind quartet repertoire, Katie Punter, Marian Baker, Susannah Hallas and Fraser Gordon continued to work together regularly as a chamber group, and thus Illuminati Wind Quartet came into being.
Illuminati were awarded the prestigious Tunnell Trust Award for Chamber music in 2007.  A series of highly successful concerts around Scotland ensued and led to regular engagements up and down the country.  Notably, the quartet performed for The Leeds International Concert Season, Wavendon’s Music in the Garden, Swaledale, Ryedale, Petworth and Rye Festivals.  In November 2010, Illuminati performed at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, after a rigorous selection process.  This recital was received with critical acclaim.  
In 2008, after successfully securing funding from The Scottish Arts Trust and The Hope Scott Trust, Illuminati commissioned works from four Scottish composers.  These were premiered in June 2009.  Along with familiar works the group is extremely enthusiastic about uncovering lesser known works, contemporary repertoire and indeed introducing their own arrangements to their audiences.  It is in this manner that Illuminati have solidified their reputation as an ensemble with sparkle and energy in their music.  

katie punter

Katie completed a Masters Degree in 2006 in Performance at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama under Richard Blake, Alison Mitchell and Janet Richardson (piccolo). In 2004 she won the RSAMD Governors’ Recital Competition and the John Macgregor Flute Prize and in 2006 was awarded the John Knox Prize for general excellence.
Her interest in musical theatre began in earnest in 2006, when she performed in two musicals in the final of the Cameron Macintosh Highland Quest for a New Musical.
In 2007 Katie toured with Reeling and Writhing theatre company’s production of Only the Men which is scored for solo female flautist with music by Eddie McGuire.
She played Mavis the Songthrush in Scottish Opera’s 2009 touring production of Aunty Janet Saves the Planet, and played the clarinet/flute chair on The Opera Show in Leicester and Scandinavia in 2010-11.
Katie tours regularly with ABBA The Show on saxophone and flute and has performed with them in 18 countries in the last five years.
She can presently be seen in the High Society UK tour, playing piccolo, flute, clarinet and saxophone.

fraser gordon

Originally from Edinburgh, Fraser initially trained as a violinist, graduating from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD)with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. Following this, he continued his studies at Conservatoire level on the bassoon, graduating with Distinction in 2008. During this time Fraser was successful in winning many prizes, including being awarded the prestigious Peter Morrison Prize for overall excellence and contributions to the corporate life of the Academy. The highlight of his studies has to be performing Dead Elvis for solo bassoon and ensemble, dressed in full Las Vegas 1970’s costume!
Fraser is a committed chamber and orchestral musician and after several busy years of freelancing in Scotland and the North of England, was appointed as the Principal Contrabassoonist of The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011. He enjoys the hustle and bustle of London and touring with the RPO to places such as Japan, Taiwan, Korea, China, USA, Russia, Mexico, Romania, Oman and Azerbaijan. He regularly appears as a guest player in other orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia and The Aurora Orchestra. Fraser has been generously supported in the past by grants from The Dewar Arts Awards, The Wolfson Memorial Trust, and a James Caird Scholarship.

susannah hallas

Susannah has been playing the clarinet since she was eight, although until the age of fourteen her main instrument was the recorder. The clarinet became her principal study whilst at New College, Oxford (where she graduated with a degree in English in 2000) and she held principal positions with several leading Oxford orchestras. Her numerous appearances as a soloist include Weber’s first clarinet concerto with the Glasgow Orchestral Society. She has completed a Masters Degree in Performance at the RSAMD under Yann Ghiro (principal, BBCSSO). In 2002 she was the recipient of the Olive Young Memorial Award. Susannah also enjoys a long-standing musical partnership with the pianist Jeremy Russell, with whom she performs recitals both at home and abroad. In addition to freelancing as a clarinettist and recorder player, Susannah teaches woodwind for The City of Edinburgh Council.

marian baker

After graduating from Birmingham Conservatoire where she studied with Richard Weigall, Jenni Phillips and George Caird, Marian moved to Glasgow in 2001 to study at the RSAMD under Stephane Rancourt (RSNO, Hallé). In the course of her studies at the Conservatoire she won a place on the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Apprenticeship Scheme. In 2002 she was the recipient of the Barcapel Foundation Award and she completed her Masters Degree in Performance at the RSAMD in 2003. During her studies in Glasgow Marian undertook regular outreach work in schools as a member of the Onegin Wind Quintet and successfully auditioned for the RSNO Apprenticeship Scheme. A freelance oboist and cor anglais player, she has performed regularly with Scottish Ballet and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and toured with the major musical production Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Marian got married in 2010 and moved back to her home town of Milton Keynes.