How did you first become involved with the Cathedral?
Amusingly, I originally intended to join just one choir upon coming to University to keep my interest in singing ‘ticking over’. This very quickly became five and is now the focus of my life. I heard through the grapevine in University of Nottingham’s Music Department that the Cathedral was looking for choral scholars. I had imagined either that places would no longer be available after the start of term or that I would not be at the required standard, but luckily being an (almost) tenor can do you a lot of favours where skill might be lacking.
What did you get out of your experience with us?
I developed an interest in conducting around the same time I came to University. I managed to secure a couple of conducting opportunities with choirs during my first year, the summer of which Alex introduced me to the Association of British Choral Directors. I had a number of lessons and met many useful contacts at their summer convention, which led to Alex offering me the position of Assistant Director of Music at the Cathedral. I continued to sing with the Cathedral Choir, but was also given opportunities to conduct them, both in rehearsals and services. Since the Cathedral Choir were the most capable singers I had stood in front of at that point, imposter syndrome was at a high and confidence was at a low. The challenges I faced were compounded by having to simultaneously learn how to collaborate effectively with an accompanist. In conjunction with my ongoing piano studies, Robert kindly taught me the organ during my first year, so I knew enough about the instrument to have a head start in this area at least.
During this time, I also became involved in the running of the Youth Choir. I conducted them to begin with, but once Ellie joined us I accompanied from the piano instead while she led from the front. This adventure brought with it more new challenges: crowd control, the need to be even more engaging, and the requirement to explain complicated things simply, to name a few. I found working with younger people to be rewarding in a way that was slightly different to the satisfaction I derived from working with adults.
While it is probably my weaker suit, the experience certainly helped me figure out what exactly my career focusses will be and I have continued to enjoy working with the Youth Choir and seeing them thrive under Ellie’s leadership.
I am still stunned by the extent to which the Cathedral facilitated my education across so many fields (and even paid me for the pleasure). I have intended to pursue choral conducting as a career since that summer of my first year, and every experience the Cathedral has led me through has complemented this ambition. I will be forever grateful to the Cathedral’s Music Department, its sponsors, and the community we are all part of, for their support.
What have been your highlights?
The large scale concerts we have put on really stand out in my memory. One of the reasons I believe the Cathedral to be such a special place is the manner in which it unites the community through music. For instance, collaborating with the Youth Choir, children from the diocese, and Streetwise Opera in last summer’s production of Tobias and the Angel was a poignant experience and, for me, summarises what music is all about.
What other musical experiences have you had outside of the Cathedral?
External highlights include conducting the University Music Society’s chamber choir and symphony orchestra, holding a conducting assistantship for the University’s choral society and chamber choir, and being one of the lucky few who were flown out to Malaysia for the Tri-campus Arts Festival in the summer of 2016. I also write, record, and produce pop music as an ongoing hobby.
What does the future hold?
I am starting a two-year MA in Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music this September with a partial scholarship and hope to enjoy quite a varied career afterwards. I have always felt called to education, but another of my aims is to found and conduct a professional chamber choir.