Jess Gillam set to dazzle at the Festival of Chichester - how to get your tickets

Jess Gillam returns to the Festival of Chichester, this time for an evening with the London Mozart Players (Thursday 30 June, 19:30, Chichester Cathedral). And she can’t wait.

Jess Gillam
Jess Gillam

“I have worked with them before and it's great to be finally doing this tour. We were supposed to be coming to Chichester in, I think, 2020. Unfortunately the whole tour can't now happen because of diary situations and other commitments but it is great that it is happening at all.”

And great to be emerging from the lockdowns: “I was really lucky during the pandemic that I was still able to do a lot of different things of interest and work on a lot of other projects and to do livestream concerts – from empty venues which was a bit bizarre! I love playing to an audience and meeting an audience and seeing new places and seeing familiar places. There's just nothing like that so it was surreal when you were just in a venue with no audience at all. It was not like recording for an album because you're trying to make it feel as if it was a concert but it is not a concert because there's nobody there. I was just really trying to be aware of the audience (watching on livestream) but I was just looking out at empty seats! It has been really exhilarating to get back and to really meet audiences now and also to be able to see a lot of faces and also to see their reaction to the music. I think I appreciate the audiences so much more and I have been very fortunate to have a very busy diary. I've got some friends that haven't been able to come back in quite the same way because the industry has been hit so hard, so really it has been bittersweet for me – that I am busy but I think of people have been forced to leave the profession which is very sad.”

Jess suspects the experience hasn't necessarily changed her as a musician: “During Covid I was still studying and I was able to finish my masters. I didn't finish my undergrad but I was very fortunate to have a place at the Guildhall to do my masters. It was lovely to get the masters but really it was about working with John Harle. I just knew that I really wanted to study with John and really it was about his tuition. You are always learning with music. Jess has wowed audiences since being a finalist in the 2016 BBC Young Musician Competition: “And so much has happened since then pretty quickly. It has been quite a whirlwind and then suddenly things stopped but I try to be as positive as possible. I was brought up in a family with a small business and my mum and dad have a really good work ethic and I have tried to do the same.”

And that's what helped to keep her feet on the ground when things really started to take off: “It is the fact that I have got that family, that I come from a small town, from a community and I have a strong community of people to support me. But for me always the most important thing with music is to make people feel something or to share an experience, to share joy or try to create an atmosphere. For me that's what the music is all about.”