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In 1984 Martin graduated from the Royal College of Music having studied Saxophone and Clarinet as joint principle study under Stephen Trier and John McCaw. Whilst at college Martin won several woodwind prizes including the Boosey and Hawkes Music Prize. He returned to the Royal College of Music in 1994 as a Professor of Saxophone.
Martin is now widely recognised as a soloist of international stature. He has had the privilege of working with some of the world's leading orchestras. Some of the highlights of his career include performing with the Berlin, Los Angeles and London Philharmonic orchestras. The eclectic nature of Martin's soloist career has given him the chance to work on challenging new projects with internationally prominent conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Andrew Davis and Vladimir Jurowski.
Martin's musical experiences are rooted in Jazz, which combined with his classical training, have provided him with a platform from which to explore contemporary music as it unfolds. His passion for the timbrel differences and freedom of world music have lead to collaborations with composers that encourage the soloists own voice to be heard, and which embrace Martin's use of ethnic instruments such as the Duduk. Two such composers are Mark-Anthony Turnage and George Fenton who, in their own ways, explore the colours which arise from the fusion of musical genres.
In 1986 Martin made his solo debut at the Purcell Room with Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Sarabande. From here a close relationship between the two developed. Your Rockaby was written specifically for Martin – Mark dedicated the movement Lullaby for Charlie to Martin’s son. ‘Rockaby’ was premiered at the Royal Festival Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was later performed at the Royal Albert Hall during the Proms season. It was also the featured work in the BBC TV series ‘The British Century – ‘Turnage’’.
Blood on the Floor was commissioned by the Ensemble Modern in 1996. Turnage wrote this piece for three Jazz soloists - Martin, Peter Erskine and John Scofield. Since its debut 'Blood' has been performed with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic under Sir Simon Rattle, The Hamburg and Tampere Philharmonic Orchestras, Avanti, the City of Birmingham, BBC and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras. The piece has continued to evolve and in the summer of 2006, John Parricelli joined Martin at the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This year 'Blood' will be performed in Paris as well as in Umea.
While Martin immerses himself in contemporary music he continues to play the full range of classical repertoire from Villa-Lobos to Frank Martin to Glasunov. He is a regular guest of the major London orchestras both as a freelance musician and as a soloist.
In 2006 Martin performed the Glasunov with the BBC Welsh National Orchestra at Saint David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire. He also travelled to Koblenz to perform Kancheli's Night Prayers with the Rheinische Philharmonie under Daniel Raiskin.
At the beginning of 2007 Martin performed Debussy’s Rhapsody for Saxophone with the London Philharmonic under Vladimir Jurowski. Later that year Martin returned to Berlin featuring on Duduk as part of an overnight performance of Tavener's The Veil of the Temple with The Berlin Radio Choir. Turnage’s newest piece, About Water, was premiered with the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in June. Martin was a featured soloist alongside John Patitucci, Gwilym Simcock and Mark Lockheart. In the same year Martin appeared at the Proms with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performing Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Panic with Peter Erskine on percussion.
The Delta Saxophone Quartet invited Martin to join them in 2009. This lead to a string of performances throughout Europe, of which arguably the most memorable was an open air performance in the Dolomites.
In 2010 Martin performed a suite of music based around the theme from ‘Poirot’ by Christopher Gunning with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. That year he recorded Poirot Variants with the BBC Philharmonic and has been released on the Chandos label.
Away from the concert platform Martin is frequently featured on film and TV sound tracks. Not only is he in demand as a saxophonist and clarinettist but can also be heard on ethnic woodwind instruments such as the Taragato and Duduk. Composers such as Stephen Warbeck, Rob Lane and John Lunn have been enticed by the Taragato’s ability to cross seamlessly from Middle East to West, while composers such as George Fenton and Hans Zimmer have been attracted to the stirring simplicity of the Duduk. Martin featured on the duduk as guest soloist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on David Attenborough’s feature length film ‘Earth’. Martin’s film and television credits include Shakespeare in Love, Billy Elliott, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, King Arthur, Kingdom of Heaven, Bleak House, Hotel Babylon, Mrs. Brown, Planet Earth and Life.