At 28 years old, Alec Frank-Gemmill is already considered one of the foremost exponents of the horn as a solo instrument. Described by the Financial Times as a “ phenomenon with a tone of golden purity, wraparound warmth and ecstatic afterglow”, he has performed concertos on BBC Radio 3, Deutschlandradio and on the television station Arte in their series Stars von Morgen. His recording of Carl Maria von Weber's Concertino with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra was met with great critical acclaim.
Alec is recognised internationally for the beauty of his tone and the keen sense of musicianship he brings to performances of works by a wide range of composers. Prize-winner of the 2011 Aeolus Wind Competition in Germany, Alec has appeared as soloist with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker and Sinfonietta Köln. In the UK he regularly performs concertos with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The Daily Telegraph commented on Alec's recent appearance in Horn Concerto No. 1 by Richard Strauss: “His unforced, richly responsive playing bloomed magically in the generous acoustics, matched by the touching sincerity of his performance.” Equally impressive in the field of contemporary music, he was also praised as an “outstanding soloist” (Observer) and a player of “breathtaking precision” (Scotsman) in performances of György Ligeti's Hamburg Concerto under Robin Ticciati.
In addition, Alec is highly sought-after to play chamber music. Last year he made his debut at the Wigmore Hall with the Brahms Trio and Mozart Quintet, besides appearing in festivals in Norway, Germany and Estonia. This summer he performs quintets by Mozart and Beethoven with Kristian Bezuidenhout at the East Neuk Festival, as well as appearing alongside Allan Clayton in the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings by Benjamin Britten. Alec will also tackle György Ligeti's fiendish trio with pianist Alasdair Beatson at the Musique à Marsac festival. With colleagues from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra he has formed a wind sextet whose performances have been exceptionally well-received: “This was an amazing, life-enhancing musical experience” (The Herald). Their first recording, of Mozart Divertimenti on Linn, will be released soon.
Recitals form another important part of Alec's music-making. Featured soloist at this year's British Horn Society Festival, he was invited to give his first-ever lecture recital. This led immediately to a further invitation to perform at the International Horn Symposium. He is committed to expanding the repertoire by pushing the limits of what the horn can do: “A stunning performance...Alec Frank-Gemmill made the instrument dart, wail and flutter as if those were normal things for a French horn to do” (The Herald). Alec is also passionate about period performance, something which enables him to explore the earliest, as well as the latest, works written for horn solo. With funding from Creative Scotland he has embarked on research into the baroque horn, both its playing techniques and repertoire. Next year Alec has been invited by the conductor Richard Egarr to perform Mozart's Horn concerto K417 on the natural horn.
Alec combines solo appearances with work as first horn in various orchestras. Principal Horn of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra since 2009, he is also a regular guest of the London Symphony Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. Having himself studied in Cambridge, London and Berlin, he was recently appointed Professor of Horn at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Alec is the recipient of a Borletti-Buitoni Fellowship 2014.
What is your most memorable concert? (either playing or listening)?
The Huelgas vocal ensemble performing works by Michelangelo Rossi in Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Saintes, France (July 2008)