Alec Frank-Gemmill divides his time between orchestral playing, chamber music, concertos and conducting. He is widely recognised for pushing the boundaries of the French horn, whether by commissioning new music, making transcriptions of chamber music or through historically-informed performance practice.
Alec was a member of the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist scheme from 2014–16, often appearing as a soloist with the BBC orchestras, including in performances of rarely-heard repertoire by Ethel Smyth, Malcolm Arnold and Charles Koechlin. He was Principal horn of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for ten years and took up the same position with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in October 2019.
With the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Alec performed concertos by Mozart (on the natural horn), Ligeti, Strauss and Schumann. His recording of Strauss’s First Concerto was named Disc of the Week on the BBC’s Record Review programme. He has also recorded three albums for the BIS label, thanks to the support of the Borletti–Buitoni Trust.
Often invited as a guest principal horn, Alec has frequently appeared with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. He also performs as part of period-instrument groups, most notably with Ensemble Marsyas.
For the last few years Alec has been shifting focus to conducting. He studies privately with Ulrich Windfuhr, as well as being part of Donato Renzetti’s conducting class in Saluzzo, Italy. Alec is the founder and director of Odin Ensemble, a Gothenburg-based group which performs on instruments from around 1900.
A phenomenon with a tone of golden purity, wraparound warmth and ecstatic afterglow.
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.
I especially enjoyed Alec Frank-Gemmill’s cheeky handling of the runs and decorations in the Horn Concertino.
Having a Fellowship is really exciting. I feel BBT has enabled my horn playing to go to new places. It’s not just a question of logistical or financial support with each project but also about their belief in me and what an artist can do. As such it is a wonderful gift; a liberating experience.
Photographs by Jen Owens, Andy Saunders