Young Artist Interview: Ian Dingle

As any artist will tell you, there are no shortcuts to ‘making it’. It takes hard work, dogged determination and passion to achieve any degree of success. So I feel that much of my success comes from following my natural instincts and exploiting my innate personality traits.

My musical calling appeared in the form of a friend who played classical guitar. I was 11 and, determined to learn the guitar as well, if not better than my friend, I set about mastering the instrument at speed. A few years later, another good friend and prodigal flautist told me she was going to study at Junior Guildhall. Determined there was no way she was going there without me, I decided to teach myself saxophone.

The plan paid off and less than a year after picking up the saxophone, I joined Junior Guildhall. Armed with a few bad habits that were promptly drilled out of me, I developed sufficiently to progress to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) and study with Christian Forshaw and John Harle. On graduating, I joined the GSMD as a Fellow to explore my interest in cross-media arts which began age four when my father, a keen amateur photographer, gave me a blue SLR camera. I took terrible pictures but fortunately for me, though perhaps not for my subjects, it didn’t dampen my interest in image making. As a Guildhall Fellow I produced a number of concerts comprising film and live score.

It was while I was at the Guildhall that I began working part-time as an assistant photographer for established names such as Jonathan Kitchen, Mel Yates and music photographer Jill Furmanovsky, who has shot some of the biggest names in rock and roll. I assisted Jill when she photographed the legendary Chrissie Hynde, and worked with others on John Lewis, Four Seasons Hotels, Lurpak and Me Hotels Mexico.

Whilst at GSMD, I became a founding member of the Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet, which went on to win multiple awards and perform at venues including Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room. The quartet comprises folk and jazz-influenced saxophonist Guy Passey, award-winning chamber musician and soloist Sally MacTaggart, acclaimed saxophonist and composer John ‘Rittipo’-Moore and myself. We all have distinct creative personalities and take on complementary, equally important roles. John is head of composition, Guy manages our programming, Sally takes an overarching role (and often has the final say!) and I manage multimedia, finance and ‘awkward conversations’. You’d be surprised how often I have to fulfil this role…

As a quartet, there are three main streams to what we do. The first is the standard saxophone quartet repertoire. My least favourite work as, in my opinion, rehashing classical repertoire like the Bach or Rivier for the five thousandth time is neither interesting nor pushes music any further on. Second is creating and performing new music – we’ve previously commissioned and premiered from composers including Michael Cryne, Samuel Quartermaine Smith, Jenni Watson and Oliver Leith. Thirdly we are heavily involved with multimedia. We’re just about to launch our debut album and the title track ‘Oil’ is based on a Scottish folk legend Guy discovered as we toured Scotland last year as Tunnell Trust artists. It’s based on the story of an old soothsayer that predicted ‘black rain’ falling on Aberdeen (obviously foretelling the coming of the oil industry) and features an art-music video, filmed using a 50-litre tank from Pets at Home and syringes to inject oil captured on a slow motion camera. The effect we were able to achieve is stunning. We shot another film on the same day called ‘Skull’ based on the legend of a human skull that refused to be buried near Manchester. Both films premiered at the Manchester Mid-day Concerts series at The Bridgewater Hall.

We’re developing the theme of folk legends and will be launching our new album with films by me and live score by John ‘Rittipo’-Moore at the Islington Metal Works on 4 July. In between photographic and video commissions, I’ll also be performing with Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet at a number of festivals this summer, including Rye Festival, which I’m really looking forward to.

Ian’s photographic portfolio can be viewed at Visit for upcoming concert details.