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Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and make it your career? 

I never wanted to be a concert pianist. I’m a people person (at least I like to think so!) and the idea of spending hours upon hours practising in solitary to then go and give solo performances really wasn’t for me – but I knew that I wanted to make music. It was Paul McCreesh who inspired me to become a conductor – I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until Paul conducted the Creation and Elijah projects at Chethams. He really understood the nature of working with young people. So many conductors would have turned up for the session and disappeared at the end, but Paul made an effort to talk and get to know the students, passing on stories and giving a real insight into life as a conductor. We got talking – and he has been a mentor and a friend ever since. I admire his attention to detail as well as his ability to craft performances that are ‘different.’ You always know you’re going to hear something special and unique at a McCreesh performance. It’s always about the music.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

Organising concerts is hectic and stressful – there are so many elements that can go wrong, and then to top it all off you have to be able to switch from admin mode to conductor mode. I have spent hours on my phone trying to get musicians to be in the same place at the same time! The most satisfying moment usually comes during the concert interval when I think to myself ‘this is why I put myself through hell…’

Which performances are you most proud of?  

In 2010 I was employed by the BBC to be the conductor to Benjamin Till’s A Symphony for Yorkshire project. People from all walks of life turned up to be a part of this community event – over 200 musicians took part. Working in the recording studio had it’s highs and lows – one particular moment came when the professional musicians in the string orchestra decided to walk out as soon as the clock hit the end of the session. Things just hadn’t been going our way and we had about 30 seconds of music left to record – despite the offer of over-time pay being dished out they were adamant that they were leaving. The project turned out to be a huge success and eventually won a Prix de Circum and three RTS (Royal Television Society) awards. I’m proud of what the Yorkshire community achieved – we had a few issues, but for the most part, everyone’s enthusiasm was a joy to see!

The idea of working across more then one genre of arts is something that really interests me. With the Symphony for Yorkshire project, it was working with visuals and creating something for a TV audience –very different from anything you do in a concert hall.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

Being a young conductor makes this question quite difficult to answer! When I’ve been to a few more, I’ll let you know!

Favourite pieces to listen to? 

I think I have a very open mind when it comes to what to listen to. But I have a particular affection for English choral music. Howells and Finzi are prime examples – their music is so sublime and very easy to get soaked into.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

I think the most important thing when you are starting out is to make things happen for yourself. Too many people sit back and wait for the phone to ring – this is about entrepreneurship, getting out there and making your own opportunities. Hard work and sheer determination will get you a long way.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I’m currently working on ‘The Beethoven Piano Concerto Project’, which is an exciting and ambitious fundraiser for the Musicians Benevolent Fund. International concert pianist Martin Roscoe will be performing all five concertos in a single evening with an orchestra of past and present Royal Northern College of Music students. Supported by Pianist magazine and presented by John Suchet, this really promises to be one hell of a musical extravaganza! This adventure will take place on 5th October 2013 at the RNCM Concert Hall.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time? 

Somewhere with sun! (Only joking… although I wouldn’t complain!). The most important thing to me is that I’m working with top musicians to make fantastic music come to life.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Can anyone really experience perfect happiness? Life is full of ups and downs – and in particular, I think the life of a musician is a roller coaster of emotions. I would love to discover perfect happiness, whatever that is, but I’m just unconvinced that it will happen!

What do you enjoy doing away from music? 

Music is my life and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I do think it is necessary to find time to switch off. Doing non-musical things refreshes the mind. I am not a sporty person (unlike my sister who can’t get enough of it!) but I do have a particular fascination with the world of F1. I’ve been following this sport since I was a young child – the pinnacle of motorsport provides speed, determination, glamour, and an obvious desire to succeed. In many ways the workings of a Formula1 team is very similar to that of an orchestra. A lot of attention is given to the driver, but without the team around him he is nothing: the mechanics and designers all the way through to the physios and caterers!

Daniel Parkinson will conduct all five of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos in ‘The Beethoven Piano Concerto Project’ with acclaimed British pianist Martin Roscoe, introduced by John Suchet, to raise money for the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund. Tickets are on sale now. To book please visit www.beethovenpianoconcertos.co.uk

A former pupil of Chetham’s School of Music, and music graduate of the University of York, Daniel has been studying conducting with Mark Heron. He has also received tuition from Mark Stringer, Philippe Bach, Johannes Schlaefi, Russell Cowieson, Tim Reynish, Matthew Wood and Sasha Mäkilä. In 2013, Daniel will be joining the MMus Orchestral Conducting programme at the Royal Northern College of Music where he will study with Clark Rundell and Mark Heron.

Daniel has performed with a wide variety of ensembles including the North Cheshire Wind Orchestra, Liverpool Mozart Orchestra, University of York Chamber Orchestra, Chester Philharmonic Orchestra and the European Medical Students’ Orchestra and Choir. June 2012 saw Daniel conduct Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2 in a version for piano and string orchestra with soloist Masayuki Tayama. This was the third of four performances given by Daniel and the Chester Chamber Orchestra. The most recent concert also featured the Chester Consort – a vocal ensemble made up of young professional singers from across the UK. He was the Associate Conductor of the Chester Philharmonic Orchestra for the 2011/2012 season.

Daniel was the conductor for ‘A Symphony for Yorkshire.’ This was commissioned by the BBC in the summer of 2010 and received nationwide coverage across television, radio and online. It has since won a Prix de Circum award and three RTS (Royal Television Society) awards. He has also worked for Youth Music Theatre UK (YMT:UK) and is the Musical Director for Codys Productions. His enthusiasm for promoting classical music to the younger generation recently saw him conduct an educational concert in Notting Hill. As well as featuring Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, this event included a concert adaptation of the animated film, ‘The Mousehole Cat’ for orchestra, soprano and children’s choir.

Future engagements include concerts with Chester Philharmonic Orchestra and Stockport Symphony Orchestra as well as a ballet collaboration with KSDance Ltd. Autumn 2013 sees Daniel alongside international concert pianist Martin Roscoe in ‘The Beethoven Piano Concerto Project.’ All 5 Beethoven Piano Concertos will be performed in one evening to raise money for the Musicians Benevolent Fund. 

Daniel is a pianist at The Hammond School and KSDance Ltd.

www.danielparkinson.co.ukwww.beethovenpianoconcertos.co.uk

Thomas Kemp (photo credit Eric Richmond/Gramophone)

Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and make it your career?

Hearing Paul Tortelier play the Dvorak Concerto with the RPO at Chatham Central Hall in Kent made me want to be a musician: I was 5 or 6 years old.

Who or what are the most important influences on your playing?

Everyone as you can learn something from the good, the bad and the ugly!!

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Studying conducting whilst bringing up a family and working internationally as a violinist. I have always found studying hard – I never felt I was a very good student and it was stressful juggling. I think I have always learnt the most when I have been working rather than studying. Sometimes it is best to get on with it.

What are the particular challenges/excitements of working with an orchestra/ensemble?

Every day has fresh challenges and part of the excitement is to get the best out of the people you are working with. Connecting and empathising is important as well as getting on with the job. Concerts are exciting and feeling the energy from the musicians is exhilarating.

Which recordings are you most proud of?

A Turnage disc that was released on Resonus in January – all world-premiere recordings and superb performances, particularly from the tenor Nicky Spence. I am also proud of the acclaimed collaborations I had with Henrik Gorecki and Arvo Part with my ensemble Chamber Domaine.

Do you have a favourite concert venue?

Wigmore Hall

Who are your favourite musicians?

They are mainly all dead or nearly dead!

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Working with Anish Kapoor at the Brighton Festival: my ensemble, Chamber Domaine played as part of a huge art installation – The Dismemberment of Joan of Ark – in a disused fruit and veg market in Brighton.

What is your favourite music to play? To listen to?

I don’t really have many preferences but I do like listening to Bach and Purcell if I am trying to relax. Most of the listening I do now is work related but I was a recording nerd when I was a student so I have listened to a lot of recordings during a misspent youth.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians/students?

Discipline, realism and knowledge. I teach at the RNCM and I try and be practical first and foremost. Knowing how to balance this with inspiration and encouragement for each individual student or ensemble is key.

Never expect anything back in return as a teacher: you are there to just give.

What are you working on at the moment?

My festival in Kent www.musicatmalling.com. There is a lot of music to learn as well as logistical things to sort out but it is really worthwhile putting something back into the community where I grew up, particularly the schools project that involves hundreds children from local primary schools – many of whom do not have access to music and top class musicians. That, for me, is vital to being a musician.

What is your most treasured possession? My family. Corny, but true.

What do you enjoy doing most? Doing what I do.

 

Thomas Kemp is the founder and director of Music@Malling Festival in Malling, Kent. The Festival celebrates the work of living composers alongside the classical greats who inspired them. This year’s Festival will mark the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth, evoking the recitals which Dickens himself would often host, with a performance by Jonathan McGovern, Matthew Sharp and Chamber Domaine.

This year sees the world-premiere of Judith Bingham’s Waning Moon as well as a selection of the composer’s other works and music by Huw Watkins. Alongside this will be music by some of Dickens’ favourite composers: Mendelssohn, Mozart and Chopin.

For further details, the full programme and to buy tickets, please visit the Music@Malling Festival website.

Scott Inglis-Kidger (photograph: Clive Boursnell)

Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and make it your career?

My first inspiration was my music teacher, Matthew Grehan-Bradley. He had a meticulous attention to detail which inspired me in my own pursuit of perfection. He took a small group of us to Prague to sing Palestrina masses; this was when I decided to become a countertenor. The second and most influential musician in my life is Stephen Cleobury, Director of Music for the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge. It was a privilege to sing in this marvellous choir in my final year at Cambridge. I was enthralled by Stephen’s conducting during a performance of Handel’s Messiah, and from then on I knew I wanted to be a conductor.

Who or what were the most important influences on your conducting?

I have always admired the work of Harry Christophers’ The Sixteen and John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir. These immensely successful ensembles were founded during university days by conductors who had a vision, not only for the performance of renaissance and baroque music, but also for the growth of the ensembles. It was this which encouraged me to form Platinum Consort, which I co-founded with Claire Jaggers. I am now beginning to realise my dream with a professional ensemble of singers, a boys’ choir and thriving diary of choral workshops.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

The greatest challenge so far has been leaving the security of my post as a school Director of Music. Teaching was such a valuable experience in terms of mastering the art of positive reinforcement, essential for children and adults alike. I also learnt a lot about management. I like to think of myself as being quite entrepreneurial, and the experience of managing a busy team of music teachers was crucial in building the ‘business’ side of Platinum. I knew I would miss the children and my staffroom colleagues but now that I am a fully freelance conductor I realise it was the right thing to do.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

I will never forget conducting my very first Platinum Consort concert in 2005. I had little experience in programming and managed to cram 15 of the most difficult pieces of choral music (Gesualdo featuring heavily) and a new mass setting by my friend Richard Bates into 90 minutes. It was a learning curve, to say the least, but I still listen to the recording and I am very proud of the amazing sounds we created. In terms of my latest activities, I am immensely proud of Platinum’s debut album In The Dark which will be released later this year. It represents the journey of Platinum over the last seven years. In many ways, it really doesn’t feel like a debut!

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

One of my most treasured places to perform is the chapel of Jesus College, Cambridge. It is one of the oldest chapels in the university and has the most sublime acoustic, perfectly suited to the early and early-inspired choral repertoire. Having said that, I am very excited to be performing in the newest concert hall in London. The interior of Hall One at Kings Place was created with wood from a single oak tree. This makes for a pretty awesome atmosphere! I will conduct Platinum Consort there later in 2012 and also in 2013 as part of their series of concerts.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

At the moment they are James MacMillan’s Miserere and Gesualdo’s Tristis est anima mea. The MacMillan is ecstatically beautiful and the Gesualdo wonderfully perverse. In fact I am listening to Tristis now against a backdrop of thunder and lightening. Both will feature on our debut album In The Dark.

Who are your favourite musicians?

In the early music field I have a massive soft spot for soprano Dame Emma Kirkby and baroque violinist Rachel Podger. Their performances are spirited and free from constraint, something every musician strives for. My favourite choir at the moment is the young British ensemble, Stile Antico.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I conducted my first Handel Messiah in November 2011. I had the combined forces of Thomas’s Choral Society, Saraband Consort and a stunning line up of soloists, all housed in a precariously packed Holy Trinity, Sloane Square. We have all heard a hundred renditions of the ‘Hallelujah’ chorus but this one was different – it was ‘Scott’s Way’. I will never forget it.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

As a singer myself – and someone who was politely told at primary school he was tone deaf – I encourage everyone to realise the potential in their own voice, whether they are children, amateurs or professionals. The crucial thing I realised from a very early stage in my career is that there should be no distinction between these three types of musician. Imparting good vocal technique and unbounded passion and enthusiasm is crucial across the board. Something I impart to the young choristers of Platinum Boys’ Choir is the importance of them carrying on a deeply rooted tradition. Choral singing is alive and well, but could disappear as easily as it was invented. The only constant is the walls in which we sing.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have just completed a very busy two months, including Platinum’s first commercial recording project and a Boys’ Choir tour to Venice. I have a number of workshops to look forward to in London as well as our very first workshop – Vivat – in Durham on 2nd June, celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I am conducting a very special concert in May to launch Platinum Choral Foundation and later this year I am looking forward to the release of our album and appearing at Kings Place.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

In 10 years’ time I would like to be recording a new album several times per year, performing in festivals in the UK and abroad, and for Platinum Consort to have recognition as being amongst the top choral groups in world. I would also like to have thriving Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs along with a young singers’ scheme, creating a path for talented young singers to realise their potential.

What is your most treasured possession?

Apart from my Apple Mac, which I couldn’t function without, my most treasured possession is a signet ring passed down to me by my grandmother. I wear it for good luck when I’m conducting.

Scott Inglis-Kidger is a conductor and vocal coach based in London. He is Founder and Director of Platinum Consort and Director of Music for Thomas’s Choral Society. He read Music at the University of Cambridge, where he sang as a countertenor in the world famous King’s College Choir. In addition to conducting, Scott directs many workshops around the country and is much in demand as a vocal coach for individuals and groups, and as an early music specialist. He was previously Director of Music at Willington Independent Preparatory School and Thomas’s Preparatory School, Battersea, establishing highly regarded liturgical choirs in both schools.

Platinum Consort was founded by Scott Inglis-Kidger and Claire Jaggers in 2005. The consort specialises in bringing vibrancy to early music, as well as breathing life into newly commissioned pieces. Originating at the University of Cambridge, the consort attracted singers from the renowned choirs of St John’s, Jesus, Trinity and King’s Colleges. Now a professional vocal octet, Platinum Consort boasts some of the best young singers in London. The group has an affinity with the music of composer Richard Bates and recently premiered his Tenebrae Responsories. Platinum also comprises a Boys’ Choir which aims to be one of the best of its kind in the UK. In addition to this our Choral Workshops provide a wealth of opportunities for singers who wish to explore glorious repertoire in smaller groups. You can find out more at:

www.platinumconsort.com.

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