My journey to performance started later than for most. Although music had always been in the background, I did not train seriously during my teenage years nor attend a specialist music school or junior conservatoire. However, a number of inspirational instrumental and classroom teachers in sixth form made music the most important part of my life. I gained a place on the vibrant undergraduate music course at the University of Manchester where I was guided by my viola teacher, Lucy Nolan.
I loved studying music academically, but during this time I realised performing and ‘living’ music was most fulfilling for me. In my final year at Manchester I began preparing for a postgraduate audition. Following a trial lesson with Louise Lansdown at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (RBC) I knew for certain that this was what I wanted, and thanks to Lucy’s super-human teaching I gained a scholarship place on the master’s Performance course.
At the conservatoire I studied with Louise Lansdown; had masterclasses with Martin Outram, Thomas Riebl, Garth Knox, Matthew Jones and Robin Ireland, and led the violas in the RBC Symphony and Repertoire orchestras. Recently, I performed with the Irish Chamber Orchestra Academy and with contemporary ensemble BCMG NEXT.
I feel very strongly that everyone should have the chance to discover and participate in classical music and receive quality instrumental training. One incredible project that I’m part of is ARCO, which offers opportunities to those otherwise unlikely to have this chance. ARCO provides a high-quality music teaching programme through distance learning for young students in Soweto, South Africa. Just four years after being founded, the first ARCO student has gained a place at a UK conservatoire.
In addition to performance, I have enjoyed managing a number of festivals throughout the UK. Currently I am Competition Manager of the Cecil Aronowitz International Viola Competition 2020 which launches the careers of future international stars and provides music engagement activity for new audiences across the UK. Previous winners include Timothy Ridout and Emma Wernig.
After many hours spent inside practice rooms with highs and lows en route, I look forward to graduating from the RBC in January 2020 to conclude the three most transformative years of my life. I’m excited and honoured to be joining Southbank Sinfonia in February 2020 and very grateful to Louise, Lucy and everyone who guided and inspired me.
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
University of Manchester
How would you persuade someone who has never heard ‘classical music’ before to come with you to a concert?
Hopefully it’s not so difficult to persuade a person to attend – I think there are many natural pulls from the nature of the concert itself: the hall, seeing an orchestra and the sort-of ‘ritual’ of concert etiquette are all things that might intrigue people. I hope that when telling this person about the concert that my passion and enthusiasm for it might be enough to persuade them to join. As for which concert, I’d choose something that I was confident would leave an amazing and lasting impression by selecting a quality ensemble, programme and setting - I wouldn’t go for anything that was excessively expensive. Something like a BBC Proms £5 standing ticket would be good, or a Southbank Sinfonia Rush Hour concert! If the person in question had negative feelings towards a classical music concert, then I might recommend watching something by the Manchester Collective or the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s ‘Night Shift’, both of which challenge and redefine what a ‘classical music concert’ is.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
Maybe in another life, something related to space/astronomy!