I can probably thank my parents’ former next-door neighbour, Florence, for my involvement, and subsequent career, in music: “That child is always singing!” she would announce to my mother after having had to endure the racket whilst I played on the swing in our garden. As a result my parents sought to encourage this and I took up the piano and flute and, in particular, indulged in the theatrical world of our local youth music theatre group where it was discovered that my singing voice had rather improved from my days on the swing; regrettably, my acting skills never really caught up.
I went on to study musicology to post-graduate level at Royal Holloway, University of London, during which time I spent many more hours singing in the Chapel Choir, Musical Theatre Society and Savoy Opera Society than I ever did in lectures. Each summer I was involved in taking shows up to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, eventually as Musical Director, a role at which I certainly didn’t excel. A spell as ‘Producer’ of a couple light opera shows proved rather more successful, and I realised that working behind the scenes was where my true talent lay, and a career in arts administration was born.
I was fortunate to land my first proper job as a Research Assistant to a Fellow at the Royal College of Music, moving from there to become the PA to the Director of the RCM for a few years. A former colleague at the RCM had left a couple of years previously to become the first General Manager of a new orchestra called Southbank Sinfonia – and I followed him in 2006, joining as Projects Manager, a new role that seemed to cover all and sundry aspects of running the orchestra from managing education projects and orchestral tours to leading the professional development programme and driving the orchestra van. After a year, our then General Manager left the organisation and during the interregnum somebody had to make sure everyone was paid on time and that job fell to me – and so I began my journey towards becoming the organisation’s Finance Director, learning on the job whilst studying alongside for my accountancy qualification.
Away from the spreadsheets, I can still often be found singing in a number of chamber choirs and close harmony groups in London, although these days I am probably more often to be found chasing my two year old boy around the local park or playing with toy trains whilst working out how to sneak vegetables into unlikely foodstuffs that he will eat.
What do you love about classical music?
Spine-tingling through virtuosity.
What do you think concerts of the future should look like?
I have loved Southbank Sinfonia’s exploration into #ConcertLab so far, in particular seeing the effects of lighting and movement on the interpretation of the music. I can’t get enough theatricality, personally.