6th October 2023
I’ve been Director of Music at King Edward’s since 2014 and am in my tenth year.
I was born in Herefordshire and grew up there. I have gradually been moving east. Firstly to Berkshire, and now Surrey where I live on site at King Edward’s.
I think that there are two things. Firstly the diversity of the community with so many countries and groups represented. So you have international pupils, foundationers, pupils from all over the UK and local pupils who all make up the KESW community. Secondly the special history of the school and its on-going links with the City of London.
There are so many things over the years and it’s difficult to choose. At my previous school, the Upper Sixth emailed the Common Room to say that they would not be in lessons after break as they had arranged for London caterers to visit the school to discuss and try various tasting menus for a party that they were arranging. Here at KESW a few years back, a new pupil said rather dramatically, ‘I know who you remind of: a male version of Cruella Deville’. Finally something a pupil said to her mother who was getting very worked up when driving her daughter back to school as she was late. They were in a hurry and traffic was very heavy, and to pass a car turning into a side road, mum drove onto the curb and punctures a tyre. The daughter, completely unfazed, in the front seat, quietly said ‘happy now?’ This sent mum over the edge!
That’s difficult. So many spring to mind, but I suppose, Mother Theresa. The people, forgotten by most, that she helped living on the streets of India is quite something. She was known as the saint of the gutters. Then in later years, she helped people in war zones. She and her team risked their lives going into places like Beirut to rescue the sick and injured. She negotiated cease fires for a few hours so that they could evacuate them. Dedicating your life to this and taking such risks is quite something.
Again I’m going to cheat and choose two. The first has to be the organ, as that was my first study. It is an orchestra at your fingertips with so many colours available. It is something special practicing in amazing buildings, where the acoustics of the building, and the building itself, is part of the instrument. Practicing late at night in a huge empty cathedral, abbey or church can be quite special and atmospheric. Sadly I have very little time to play nowadays, but I regularly nipped into the School Chapel in the early hours of the morning during lockdown to alleviate the boredom. The other instrument must be the voice. It is the most complex of all instruments, and capable of incredible expression. It uniquely has the capability of using words.
I like exploring and experiencing different cultures. So Istanbul would be fascinating. The ancient city, formerly known as Constantinople, where East meets West. It’s full of history and the meeting of different cultures. The journey would have to be by the traditional Orient Express. I suppose something else that I would like to do, would be to explore an undiscovered library that had been left untouched for hundreds of years. I remember being shown around the palazzo behind San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice many years ago. It was permanently closed to be public. One of the rooms we passed through was a completely disused and dusty library full of medieval books. It would be wonderful to immerse yourself in there for years.
I think that I’ve probably said enough!