Posts Tagged ‘Minster School’


Personal Statement for RHUL MMus application…

May 7, 2010
‘Without music, life would be a mistake’
Bill Bailey

Obviously this statement is right in what it affirms and wrong in what it denies, but I concur wholeheartedly with its sentiment. I cannot comprehend my life without the tremendous influence of music and the passion it invokes.

Following an audition, I was granted a place at The Minster School, Southwell, where I was involved with many groups and ensembles at school, including Main orchestra, Choir and ’Cello Group. I was also involved in county-wide programmes including Nottingham Youth Orchestra and Nottinghamshire Education Symphony Orchestra. In 2001 I joined the National Scout and Guide Symphony Orchestra, becoming principle ’cellist in 2003. Prior to my studies at London School of Theology (LST), I was a member of Nottingham Symphony Orchestra and was also asked to play with the Ensemble of Southwell. I have been involved with the All Souls Orchestra since embarking studies at LST in October 2006, with whom I have had the opportunity to play in venues including Birmingham Symphony Hall, The Sage Gateshead and The Royal Albert Hall.
My experience as the principle ’cellist of various orchestras has taught me the need of comprehending the music, as well as being a good player, in order to communicate this understanding to others. Music is not only about expression, but the mechanics of the art. The notes; the chords; the instruments; the history; the context; the genre: music is not about selfish creation, it is about selfless appreciation.

When I was in sixth form, whilst working through some difficult personal situations, I felt able to play more than just the notes on the page. I had my first experience as a soloist with a local orchestra, performing Elergy by Faure. I discovered a passion for the music I was interpreting in my performances. I had become a ’cellist.
As a member of the Queen’s Scout Working Party, for the Centenary year of Scouting, I was chosen to be a member of the Chapel team for the annual Scout Service for the St. George’s day parade at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor. I was asked to perform Prayer from Bloch’s ‘from Jewish Life’ as a reflection during the service. Not only did I perform to a congregation of Queen’s Scouts, but also to Her Majesty, The Queen.
I achieved ABRSM Grade VIII with distinction prior to commencing reading Theology, Music and Worship at LST. During the course I have grappled with Theology of Worship and the debate of Performance in Worship within the church. In the Arts and Worship module, I have been delving into a philosophy of the arts, specifically the relationship between creativity and suffering, which is continuing to aid my understanding of the artist. I have grown as a person, as a musician and as a performer. At level two, I elected to take Individual Performance as well as my end of year recital, which enabled me to spend the time practicing and understanding Haydn ’Cello Concerto in C, my first concerto. In final year, my dissertation, entitled; ‘Beethoven’s Faith; Discerning a Trajectory’ incorporated a recital containing movements from his Piano and ’Cello Sonatas spanning the length of Beethoven’s compositional life, as well as a written discussion paper as to how the development of Beethoven’s faith may be evident within his music.

Areas of study I wish to pursue include the philosophy of performance, maybe with the possibility of taking an elective in a related area.

I feel the next step for me is to pursue my gift of playing the ’cello at a more advanced level, in order to further develop and refine my technique and ability. This will enable me to understand and perform at my best, in the hope that I might be able to pass on my enthusiasm for the ’cello to generations to come.

It was during a recent recital that I realised how much performance means to me;

It was the most natural feeling in the world.

‘…the most natural thing in the world…’

April 29, 2010

Wednesday 28th April was my dissertation recital ‘Beethoven’s Faith; Discerning a Trajectory.’ I played a selection of Beethoven’s works for piano and cello.

Today I was found saying that while playing my ‘cello last night it felt like ‘the most natural thing in the world.’ When Chris Grey, one of my lecturers picked me up on this, I realised what I had just said.

My last lesson with Margaret last week, we agreed I didn’t really need to see her again, which took pressure off early this week 🙂
My rehearsals with Steve Robbings, my pianist, had been going well, although I wasn’t so happy with it all last week, but content, knowing it was the week before my recital!
On Tuesday I had a lesson with Sue at Eton, I hadn’t seen her since November. I played through my recital in order, after which Sue sat back and explained how she was trying to picture herself in the audience, not knowing who I was, and she’d never have known how ill I’ve been! She wanted to know where I was able to get all my musical energy from?! And, she was really impressed, saying it was ‘excellence!’ She did pick up on a few bits and bobs to tidy up which was helpful 🙂
It was a lovely surprise to see Matthew, Sue’s son at Eton too, he’s teaching there one day a week. He was encouraging as always and wanted to read my dissertation essay, which I sent to him. He sent me a good luck message yesterday afternoon, which was very sweet of him!

The whole of Wednesday felt surreal. I don’t think I really did the being nervous thing, because even today I don’t feel like I’ve done it, you know? It hasn’t sunk in!

Especially as when I moved back to LST my dissertation recital had a massive question mark over it! Even a month ago I doubted I’d have the stamina to survive!

Have I really just finished my dissertation? Have I done with Beethoven (for now)?!!

Es ist vollbracht!

The recital itself, went fairly well. I slipped up three times in the 40 minute recital, which isn’t too bad, especially considering they were all things I’d never done wrong before, and I didn’t let them affect the phrases too much!

I was so blessed by the amount of people who came to support me! I’d printed 60 programmes, but there were none left at the end! Phil estimated at about 80 people in the audience!
My parent’s had come down from Nottinghamshire with Victoria (bride-to-be), Mick had got the train down from Southwell! Sarah and Helen came over from Muswell Hill. Some Scouting/NSGSO friends also came which was a lovely surprise! David had come over for the day from Finchley. Simon James-Morse and Mark Jenner, who were both in my class last year, came back especially to hear me play! Mum’s friend from orchestra/quartets, Malcolm also came all the way down, too, and took the opportunity to mock me still!

Thank you to everyone who came and supported me in so many ways!

I spent some time compiling all the messages of support and encouragement I’ve received… I still haven’t finished and there’s over 5 pages!!

14 of us went out for a meal at ASK after wards, which was lovely. I was so hungry by the time we got there, as I hadn’t eaten much before my recital! But I didn’t manage to finish off my pizza, which is a first for me! I don’t understand how I got full so quickly?

I gave Helen, Sarah and David lifts back to Muswell Hill/Finchley to save them spending ages on public transport!
I got back to my room at 12.15am.
I crashed physically and emotionally. I’d felt it coming when David and I took my ‘cello, chair and music back to my room before going for the meal… my legs were burning, but I ignored it!
I was in so much pain, I could barely move. Trying to take off my shoes, whilst sat on a chair, I almost wound up on the floor. The thought of getting changed to go to bed was beyond comprehension, I just couldn’t do it. I wound up taking my trousers off, cause I was too hot, then I felt a bit naked, so put my PJ bottoms on, but hadn’t changed my top half!
I was overwhelmed with emotion, I had gone from performing to 80 people, to going out for a meal, to driving, to being so alone. I just wanted to be held. To fall asleep in someone’s arms.
My body rested for a few hours (not asleep) by which time it gathered enough energy to cry. I cried for about an hour and a half. I texted Lizzie during the crying, knowing she is sometimes awake at these early hours. She came round and sat with me till I finally drifted to sleep at 5.45ish. I didn’t get up till lunchtime. I crawled back into bed numerous times throughout the day. I missed my lectures.

I was worried as I had a rehearsal at All Souls for Prom Praise Royal Albert Hall next Saturday, between 7 and 10 this evening. I struggled getting into London, I didn’t think I’d survive the evening at all. But, once I was playing my ‘cello again, everything felt so much better! I lasted ’till 10.

Paul Hammond very kindly recorded my recital for me. I’ve just listened to it just now… it’s weird listening to myself. The microphone was quite close so it picked up a lot of surface noise and I don’t sound in tune some of the time.. I didn’t think it was that bad in real life? ack.

I’m looking forward to seeing Mr Marriott’s photographs soon 🙂

I saw David Peacock and Richard Hubbard (my examiners) at lunchtime today, they wouldn’t even give me a hint as to how I’d done!

I found Chris Grey to apologise for not getting to Arts and Worship this morning… we wound up having a conversation about ‘what next’ and performance. I think I should pursue ‘Cello related things. Scrap that. I know I should.
We talked about post-grad’s and music colleges vs. universities… he suggested I looked at Durham, Royal Holloway and King’s. The latter of these would mean I would still be around London and could thus still be near friends, play with All Souls and stuff.
Holloway want an application by May 10th to be considered for scholarship funding… they also want a CD of my playing and an essay! Ack.

But I’m still lacking the confidence in my ability, I doubt I’m good enough to do post-grad. After all, I’ll be the first person in my family to get an honors degree, I never thought I’d get to University when I was at school! So for me to be thinking about Masters’ is crazy.

I’m crying again; I am such a musician it’s untrue. It’s taken me till now to really realise this; I’ve been suppressing it all this time. When I was at school, my ‘cello was just a hobby, nothing else. I knew music college was there, but I never thought in a million years that I could go.

And yet, when I was sat in chapel last night, behind my ‘cello, in front of 80 people, I was praising God and it was the most natural feeling in the world to me.

I am so very blessed.


I have been so privileged

March 27, 2010

The Old Southwellian Society is the Minster School Alumni’s official name. This evening, five/six years after leaving school (depending whether you count my academic year group or when I finally left sixth form!), I went to my first Old Southwellian’s Annual Dinner.

I’ll be honest, I was a little anxious about going. My perceptions of it being an ‘Old boys club’ were not wrong! (The Minster School was a Grammar School prior to combining with the Edward Cludd?? Secondary Modern, to form the Minster Comprehensive as it was when I wes there) Hannah and I were the youngest there by a good 25 years or so, unless of course you count the bar staff, who were from our year at school!
It was lovely to catch up with people who I knew as tutors and conductors of County Orchestra, and with Terry Gill, the teacher of JD for many, many years!
I was asked on numerous occasions, whether I’d become a Vicar, and why? and ‘what about your music?’
Hannah is on the OSS committee and we were saying how we need to work out how we can encourage our generation to be a part of OSS, and what we want from it, which is quite exciting! One of the ideas was to change the name, but after a vote, it was looking like 2:1 in favour of no change!
Hannah and I were sat on a table with 6 others who left the school 30 years ago – they’re trying to have a big gathering later on this year I think? But I was talking to a spouse of one of them, and we had a really good conversation. The small talk questions of ‘what do you do?’ and ‘where are you based now?’ etc. managed not to kill the conversation and we got chatting about how privileged we all are to have gone to a school like The Minster.
Hannah is now a teacher at Dayncourt, the school in my village, where my brother went. I have often thought, if I hadn’t gone to Minster, but gone there, would I i) still play the ‘cello? and ii) be a Christian? Where would I be now?
Southwell is a beautiful place. The Minster is a lovely building. The community is awesome. And the school is always in the top few comprehensives in the county, even rivalling the High School!
I was so lucky to go to JD and be taught by the incredible Terry Gill. I was so lucky my parents made the effort to get me into a musical school. I was so lucky to have grown up in that supportive environment.
Yes, it was a lot of effort, not just for me, but my family. To get me to school every day. To support me in numerous ways with music lessons and extra curricular activities. But it was so worth it!