My creative writing group was set an assignment which had to include the words "… actually, that’s why I’m here".
I love writing (hence the writers’ circle).
I love classical and choral music, both as an audience member and as a singer.
I love travelling, both in the UK and further afield.
At times, each of these interests takes precedence, but I’m in my element if I can manage to wangle two or even all three of them at once. More often than not, my writing naturally veers towards musical subjects, and the perfect scenario for full-scale immersion presented itself when I became chairman of my choral society. Why not add to the manic schedule by writing a memoir based on my first year in post? Around an eventful, and at times controversial, choir year, I wove the colourful threads of orchestral and choral concerts, workshops, festivals near and far, meeting musicians and trying to become one by belatedly learning the piano and music theory. Being a time-sensitive venture, it was a wonderful discipline to keep me writing regularly, and I was proud to publish A Year of Living Musically in 2010.
Keeping to deadlines has now become second nature, since being invited to be an accredited concert reviewer for bachtrack.com, a place to find quality music all over the world. This gives me the opportunity to enjoy press tickets for performances potentially worldwide, a gift to the travel writer in me; to subvert the joke attributed to Arthur Rubinstein, had I been the stranger approaching him on a New York street, asking "Pardon me, sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?", instead of "Practice, practice, practice!"* he could have replied "Write, write, write!" But more importantly, the pre-concert research the role obliges me to indulge in is a great benefit to my musical education. It’s encouraged me to be more adventurous in my choices and given me a new perspective on listening – really listening – to music; a thoroughly enriching experience. I definitely consider myself a reviewer rather than a critic, and like nothing better than feedback such as "you made me feel as though I were there". Actually, I think that’s why I’m here.
* Deliberate American spelling of imperative verb!
Life-affirming Beethoven in Birmingham with the CBSO (September 2014)
Game set and match to Prom 3 (July 2014)
Warming up in Avila (Spain, April 2014)
Brazilian brilliance in Birmingham with Ex Cathedra (March 2014)
Joshua Bell plays Bach, Brahms and Beethoven (January 2014)