Tell us how the past year has been since you left the Academy.
As this has been the first year I’ve not been tied to an institution, it has admittedly taken some time to adjust. Luckily there has been some continuity. I’ve been writing a piano quintet that was commissioned while I was still studying. As a day job, I lead composition workshops in schools, which I also started while still at the Academy. Then there are the things that materialised serendipitously over the course of the year. I’ve written an immersive operatic vignette for Shadwell Opera about getting a haircut, which will be released digitally this summer. I was also fortunate to secure a place on the LSO Panufnik scheme, so I’ve been churning out material for regular workshops. In the background I’ve been laying the foundations for a recording project.
What was the highlight of your training, and how did the Academy help prepare you for your career?
I did both my degrees at the Academy, which was good because they prepared me for different elements of my life now.
The BMus, whilst of course laying solid foundations, really emphasises a ‘DIY’ approach and the Academy were great facilitators. I was able to organise my own performances and recordings and choose who to collaborate with, all of which has helped to establish my work as a freelancer.
The project-based nature of the postgrad prepares you well for real-world commissions, such as working to a brief and with instrumentalists directly. I think it also covered a number of eventualities, be it having to write lots very quickly, or perhaps for forces I’m not as familiar with.
What has been the most important thing you have learnt since graduating?
To embrace serendipity but not to plan for it – saying yes to most (all) things that come my way alongside realising my own projects. I’m still figuring out how to balance this.
What advice would you give to someone graduating this year?
There will be a lot of throwing things (applications) at the wall (organisations) and seeing what sticks. Make sure you balance this uncertainty by creating your own projects. Write the music you want to write, and you’ll find the people who want to listen to and play it.
What are your next projects?
I’ll be at Aspen Music Festival and School this summer as a composition fellow. I’ve written an orchestral and an ensemble piece and I will be developing some early-stage operatic shenanigans while there. When I’m back, I look forward to working with a few recent collaborators again to develop new works. I’m planning to release some of the aforementioned recording project as an album, and then the LSO piece is going to happen next spring.
Photo credit Ella Pavlides