COACHING & TEACHING
University of Birmingham 2019
Worcester Cathedral archives
with bust of Beethoven and
Cello Teacher and Chamber Music coaching
Junior Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Assistant Head of Strings, Purcell School
Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
King Edward's School, Birmingham
Sheffield Music Academy
Also available for private tuition (in person or via Zoom /Teams platforms) and masterclasses
My ethos and inspirations
Education has been always been at the forefront of my music as I have been so lucky to work with a plethora of great artists and musicians. I believe that it is important for every musician to return to the next generation the fruits of their studies and to this end the traditions of great musicians can continue. I valued my studies with the wonderful Florence Hooton and her amazing array of technical exercises. Her approach to teaching and disciplined practise was exemplary and one cannot ever overstate the benefits of her methodical approach. Similarly, William Pleeth’s was an inspiring and insightful teacher who not only combined impeccable knowledge about the style and taste of the work he was discussing but also the importance of correct phrasing and articulation. During my Guildhall years, I studied conducting with Alan Hazeldine and in many ways he helped shape my music making in concerto repertoire. I would like to mention the wonderful Peter Wallfisch who I found immensely inspiring for duo repertoire (particularly in British repertoire) and many an afternoon was spent with Bernard Lanskey (Dean and Professor, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore) talking about and playing wonderful cello and piano repertoire.
Other inspirations were chamber music classes with members of the Amadeus Quartet (I fondly remember quartet lessons with Norbert Brainin at his house in Stanmore) and masterclasses at the Guildhall with the Melos and Takács Quartets. The Guildhall School in the 1990’s was a rich haven of talent with frequent visits from the likes of Bernstein, Rostropovich and composers such as Witold Lutoslawski and Gilbert Amy. Lutoslawski was the nicest of men you could meet and both warm and generous with his time. To work on Grave and the Funeral Music with him was an honour. Since leaving the Guildhall working with the violinist Yfrah Neaman on chamber music and string technique provided an overall understanding and a methodology to find my own solutions.
To play the Dvořák Concerto and Kodály Solo Sonata to the great Sir Georg Solti in his house near Swiss Cottage was a special occasion. To listen and take on-board the ideas of someone who studied piano and composition with Ernst von Dohnányi, Béla Bartók and Leó Weiner at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest was equally special. Solti recalls in his memoirs that he would have liked to study composition with Kodály but he turned him down, leaving him to study first with Albert Siklós and then with Dohnányi! The inspiration for a Ph.D. on Kodály is therefore clear. After joining the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, I was honoured to be conducted by other great conductors. Working with Simon Rattle was truly remarkable for his methodical preparation of the orchestra with nothing left to chance. The concerts that followed could then be performed with freedom. Equally, working in the CBSO with the Austrian-born conductor and violinist Walter Weller was very special for his impeccable taste and refinement, particularly in the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and Johann Strauss. I should also like to mention Sakari Oramo in Sibelius and contemporary music and Andris Nelson's in Wagner and Richard Strauss.
Chamber music has always been an important part of my life and I have worked with some remarkable individuals. To play with Peter Cropper was also inspiring with an amazing vibrancy and a freedom where the music could go in any direction! I must also mention the wonderful pianist Benjamin Frith who has been not only an amazing duo partner but also a good friend and colleague.