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Coffee or beer?

Blog #8

Short days, long nights, snowy walks and a new lockdown are here; a lot has happened since my last post a month ago. My wife Heather and I have found new walks close to home, and most importantly I got a PB beating my brothers 5k run time - nothing like a bit of healthy family competition to get you out of the house! 🤣

How are you finding this lockdown? How are you staying positive?

I am really grateful to those of you who read this blog and reach out to me with comments, thoughts and feedback. What interests you? What do you want to hear about? Please comment below or drop me an email.

Embracing the digital world

In my previous blog I told you all about the brilliant online masterclass I did with Maestro Neeme Järvi, organised by Meta Artists International. This month I was chosen for the LEAD! Winter Academy Digital Session with Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Frances Maunder which ran over the 23rd and 24th January. LEAD! Foundation’s mission is to support the emerging careers of the next generation of young conductors. I personally feel both encouraged and grateful for leading industry professionals creating these opportunities for learning, advice and open dialogue. Jukka-Pekka Saraste led a brilliant video analysis and advice session, and the following day Frances led a session on negotiating fees with confidence and other aspects of the music industry. All the kind of information we need to know about - but not always spoken about! A year ago, I did not think I would have been talking to these people and this feels like a huge positive to take from the current situation.

“If you can sing it; you can conduct it”

Not only do these workshops benefit my own career, but there are so many lessons I can apply to my work at the Universities of Manchester and Huddersfield with my own teaching. It has never been so easy to have an industry professional drop into an online class and give 15 minutes of their time. This is priceless for my students. Whilst we cannot rehearse our ensembles in person, we can focus in detail on gesture, technique, score study and singing! Fergus McWilliam from the Berlin Philharmonic said to me “If you can sing it; you can conduct it”.

Coffee or beer?

I always love hearing from friends, colleagues and former students. In fact a number of you have reached out to me since Christmas and we are meeting for informal chats and coffee (online of course!). I was surprised by how many students I have taught; 48 from Manchester and 176 from Huddersfield.

We learn so much from talking to each other. I think a ☕️ (or something stronger 🍻 ..) always sounds like a good idea. Comment below or write to me if you would like an informal chat or have an idea you may have - everyone welcome.

On the horizon I am pleased to say there are exciting plans on the horizon so keep an eye out for:

- A second NWIMF NEW Sinfonia Digital Concert from St Asaph to be released end of March

- Another Manchester Camerata project

- WNO Community Chorus North starting online

For now, take care and stay positive (and sane!)



P.S My 5km time was 23:36 - and yes I suffered the next day 🤪

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