Conducting

Standing very proudly here with the Master, Benjamin Zander, Chief Conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra after I’d conducted the 3rd Movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in the Art of possibility Masterclass.

Beginnings

I’ve always wanted to be a conductor. However I always knew I would have to go one of two routes and instead of taking the Opera route, I went down the harder and longer journey of the orchestral musician.

I began conducting in 2003 with the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra (UK), and conducted the Northern Baroque Orchestra in Rochdale for 9 years, which also involved bringing in soloists from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra to participate in public concerts and spanning repertoire from C.P.E. Bach to Glazunov.

Having participated in an International Masterclass at the Royal Northern College of Music with the acclaimed Dutch conductor Jac Van Steen in March 2015, I decided it was time to embark on a conducting career, finally having the knowledge and experience of being a member of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for 14 + years as a violinist.

My first outing as a Symphonic Conductor was with the Blackburn Symphony Orchestra in November 2015 at Accrington Town hall with a programme of Hindemith Metamorphosen, Schumann 1 and Peter and the Wolf.

STUDIES

Starting in January 2016, I began my formal conducting studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK on a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course with Clark Rundell and Mark Heron.

THE SKAPARIS COLLECTIVE

While at the RNCM I formed the Skaparis Collective (From Skapa – meaning ‘to create’ or ‘creator’ in Old Norse) in September 2016.

The Skaparis Collective is the umbrella name for any number of Skaparis projects, and the Skaparis Orchestra’s debut concert was in December 2016 when I conducted Schoenberg’s Verklärte nacht and Ibert’s Divertissement.

The Skaparis is very flexible, in that it can perform works from 6 players and morph in to a large orchestra. The first professional concert I am gave with them was at the Manchester (Gorton) Monastery  on August 25th ’17 where I collaborated with the Dance Producer, Suddi Raval (who had a big hit in the 80’s called ‘Northern Uproar’ in the Hacienda era) and Simon Withenshaw, Film Score composer for TT Games (Warner Bros.)

The project was named called ‘Classical Uproar’ and the concert in August was covered on BBC News.

There are further performances of the reduced version of Classical Uproar planned for 2018/19, starting with a performance at Leeds International Festival (UK) on 28th April ’18.

BRASS

I was appointed MD of the Stretford Brass Band between January 2017 and October 2017, an appointment that I’m extremely proud of as the band has a great history, having been around over 100 years! It also helped develop my skills conducting brass, and I can now stand in front of any brass section with a great deal more confidence. I left the band in October as the Skaparis Collective was requiring more of my time.

OPERA

Opera started to play a large part in my musical life – I conducted two Opera excerpts at the RNCM Opera Theatre in June ’17, La Cenerentola by Rossini and L’amico Fritz by Mascagni. It’s fascinating working with singers. I was determined to go through the same processes as them by attending language coaching (especially Italian) and being present at all of the pre production meetings with the Opera Director Garth Bardsley. The performances were such a joy to conduct and the singers were remarkable!

DEBUT

My Opera debut was on August 12th ’17 at RADA studios in London performing the Chamber Opera ‘Citizens of Nowhere’ by the composer Anna Appleby, and collaborating with the famous South African dance choreographer, Dane Hurst. It was an incredible experience to be collaborating with such a dance legend and we all received great reviews for our performance.

Conducting classes from external conductors at the RNCM while I was there were very intense, and I was lucky enough to have conducted under Matt Wood, Mark Shanahan, Garry Walker, Phillipe Bach,  Anthony Hermus and Jac Van Steen.

THE ART OF POSSIBILITY

I was accepted on to the London conducting Masterclasses with the Boston Philharmonic chief, Benjamin Zander in July ’17 (it was a busy summer!) and this became a life changing event for me. Benjamin teaches ‘the Art of possibility’ which is a philosophy, a way of life and a construct for the foundation of his conducting teaching. While there I conducted Beethoven 9, Coriolan overture Mahler 5, Tchaikovsky 4, Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet and  Mozart Susannah’s aria. I met some incredible people and brilliant artists and I was extremely lucky to have been there to participate in these very, very intensive Masterclasses with this great Master.

FUTURE

I’ve just signed a contract with Warner Brothers to conduct their new LEGO computer game, ‘The Incredibles’ with a Big Band that I’ve hand picked on April 12th/13th at 80hz Studios in Manchester.

Simon Withenshaw has written the amazing music for the game. I’ve been working solidly with him for the past 2 months on the scores to check for anomalies before the conductor’s score and players parts are transcribed and printed by Tristan Noon.

I’ve been invited by my friend Carl Whitely (Film Producer) to conduct the Skaparis Orchestra for the Harry Potter Convention in Manchester (UK) on 21st/22nd July and 27th/28th October so I’m just sourcing all of the players and music. The Convention itself will be in The Print Works but the concerts (including Harry Potter themes, Star Wars, ET, Jaws etc.) will be performed 6 times each day at the newly built Stoller Hall in Chethams School of Music. It’s going to be a brilliant event!

Plans are coming together for a UK Tour for the Skaparis in March/April 2019 which will include Rebel ‘Les Elemens’ and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater – this will be to make up for postponing last year.

More collaborations are currently being forged behind the scenes at SR Music – I’ll keep you all updated!