A different perspective!

Well, I can confirm I am not very good at blogging and I doubt I will ever go ‘viral’. But one thing is certain, when you have worked hard and constantly for such a long time, it is a bit of a revelation to find you have free time for yourself, family and friends. I made a big decision to stop doing something I enjoyed last July and it does not seem like twelve months ago since I did! I keep an interested eye on how things are progressing and I am so pleased that many of you are still singing and travelling and enjoying great camaraderie and making new musical memories. But, I have to be honest, that I really am enjoying ‘time-out’. I am still busy with my various projects, but now have time to breathe, reflect, catch-up or do nothing! I do so enjoy what I do, but I am always looking for the next challenge or a new road to travel down, experiment and see what happens. The rest of the year looks exciting and I am very much looking forward to new projects in 2018! As I write I am mindful of a quote by the late, Steve Jobs.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” I’m lucky……I have found what I love!

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Blogging!

So, I’m actually not very good at this am I! Well, today I reach the end of a journey. One that has produced so many memories, that it will be impossible for me to forget. But it has been a good journey and it has taught me a great deal. I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many musicians and singers over the last 13 years, conducting over 200 concerts and I have lost count of the number of rehearsals I have taken. But, looking forward and taking a different path is what is on the horizon, well actually it’s just around the corner and I am looking forward to it! There are still many things that I am involved with, but my decision is based on having some time for myself. None of us really know what’s coming next, but I am going to stop for a while and simply be me, with just a little more time to relax and reflect. So a massive thank you to everyone that has been on this journey with me. Cheers everyone! Maybe now, I will blog a little more often! 🙂

Successful Blogger!

Well, this isn’t going too well is it? I last wrote in January, wishing everyone a happy new year! Where has the time gone? I am just about to start a full-on work schedule after quite a relaxing few weeks and it has certainly made me realise the benefits of getting away from it all and recharging your batteries. I have had a lot of time to think lately and it is so important that we stop and think of ourselves sometime. We live in a hectic world and for most of us, we don’t stop and give ourselves the opportunity to simply ‘be’. None of us know what is around the corner and it is essential that we live our lives as we would want to and should try not to live our lives according to others demands. I am not saying that those around us are not important and should shape our days and months, but we must never lose sight of what we want ourselves. I am fortunate to be doing what I love, yet I should always be true to myself as a person and as someone who tries to be professional in all my various roles. I don’t know whether it is a sign of getting older, or just becoming more comfortable with myself, but there has definitely been a change. I have experienced so many wonderful things this year and looking at my diary have many more fabulous things to look forward to in the future. I already have work as far ahead as 2021 – eek! Now, that is scary; but comforting in a way to know that I can plan that far ahead and that people still want me to work for them. I did some new things this year, including working with one of my past students on a dance project. It was humbling, special, inspirational and gave me so much more than I had expected. I have made new friends and become reacquainted with old ones, but there just doesn’t seem to be enough time! I know I should make time, but when there is still so much to do, to learn, to read! I am backing myself in a corner here and I know it, but I have become hungry for knowledge and want to know more about everything. But I shall be content in what I know and do and have made a promise to myself to ‘stop’ occasionally and just slow everything down and watch and listen and be ‘present’! So, having got that off my chest, let’s see if I can write something before 2016 comes round. We shall see!

Happy New Year!

I’ve only just got used to writing 2014, so there’s no hope for remembering the ‘5’! Time really does fly when you are enjoying yourself. The Christmas and New Year break is an odd one, because you look forward to it (mostly) and then it’s gone before you even know it. December brought a varied month of events… I gave a talk about Haydn, The Creation…and it really made me appreciate this music more than ever and who knows it may even make an appearance in my concert repertoire sometime in the future. I was delighted to attend one of the Barnsley Youth Choir concerts this month and they never disappoint – so much energy! Two singing days, exploring the fabulous music of Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, which reminded me of Bretton and of the performances of this beautiful piece every Christmas in the mansion building. Many and varied concerts with Honley MVC….I can’t believe it is now 2 years – where does the time go? My final Christmas week of concerts was a little mad, to say the least…7 in one week!! It went something like this – Gorton Monastery with Russell Watson and ACS, ACS Carols with the Choral with Oldfield Brow School, a concert at Kirkwood Hospice with HMVC, Carols by Candlelight with CPC and Swanwick Primary School, the final HMVC concert in Huddersfield and then two Christmas concerts with Unlimited Voices in Liverpool. My final rehearsal was on 21st…..and then oh, have I bought any presents yet – NO! But, before that a great evening returning to the fabulous Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, such a great building and good to be with friends….oh yes, perhaps I had now get presents, after all it’s only 24th – I’ve got plenty of time! And rest – it has been a lovely Christmas, an opportunity to relax, see friends, spend time at home, see some great theatre, catch up on TV and it all starts again on Monday. But would I change anything? Well, maybe only a couple of things, but I am so lucky to do what I enjoy doing…I have some great things happening on 2015 and as usual it is the things I don’t know about yet that will make the year even more special. I am always thoughtful at this time of year, as well as thankful. It has been an interesting year blogging – well ok, trying to – I haven’t exactly been as prolific as I said I would but, at least I tried and it has been nice to read back through my year. So here’s to another exciting and different 12 months!

Advent Already!

So, where has all the time gone since my last blog? It was July….I have had quite a busy time since then. I did manage to have a good break on holiday this year which was very much needed, but since getting back it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride. My concerts have been varied – it began at Hampton Court Palace, then a World War One commemoration concert at Huddersfield Town Hall with the massed voices of Altrincham Choral Society, Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir, Honley Male Voice Choir and Unlimited Voices – an amazing sound and a delight to see all my choirs on the same stage at the same time. October got quite busy with trips to Belfast, Prague and Venice! Belfast hosted the annual conference of The British and International Federation of Festivals for Music, Dance and Speech and I was privileged and humbled to be voted in as the Chairman of The Federation. Prague was next and I was able to conduct in some fabulous places, including the Military Chapel in Prague Castle, where we were privileged to hear the military prayer read by the Chaplain. Venice next and my visit happened to coincide with the Venetian Marathon – needless to say I enjoyed not taking part, but was nevertheless inspired by those who took part and their amazing stamina!

November saw some terrific concerts – Messiah in Chesterfield, the first performance of The Poppies Blow with Altrincham Choral Society and we were delighted to be joined by Stockport Youth Orchestra and Bowdon Preparatory School Girls Choir. Two lunchtime recitals in St Paul’s Cathedral in London, my final Festivals of 2014 in Colne and Fleetwood and a lovely lunch with the Lady Taverners at Chester Racecourse.

It’s been a busy, yet rewarding time and I have even managed to catch up with an old friend and met someone from my schooldays, which was a lovely surprise. So, tomorrow is 1st December and as for many musicians it is a busy time so I expect it will be the New Year before you hear from me again! So, have a happy time and enjoy one or two mince pies!

A Lovely Day!

My, my….what a busy time I have been having! A day off today, but I shall be celebrating the wedding of a very dear friend this evening! It always surprises me the twists and turns in our lives, the opportunities that come along that we must grab at all costs……but perhaps the most valuable lesson I have learnt recently is to value friendships! Real friendship is timeless, there are no expectations, no pressures, they just are…..and even when we think we have let far too much time pass since we last got in touch….make the effort!

I have been lucky to have some wonderful opportunities lately, especially the many varied concerts I have conducted and the wonderful people that have been on this journey with me! Of course my last blog announced the honour of becoming patron of the EnRich charity….although given the opportunity to think about the request, it actually required no thinking at all. Richard Tolson was a former student of mine who went on to become a colleague. Those who knew him, will agree that he was an inspiration, always smiling, always supportive, always there for you and always nice! He was honest, talented, full of integrity, kind, generous and a great person to be around and was always interested in what you were doing. I haven’t mentioned any of his skills as a musician, great as they were, but it was his manner and enthusiasm that never failed to impress those whom he met. I had the utmost respect for Rich and feel privileged to be able to remain to be a small part of his life, his family and his friends and am very proud to support EnRich.

I have also done quite a bit of travelling lately and as an adjudicator I really do get to hear some wonderful talent and the work of the many festivals that I am fortunate to attend deserve every credit for continuing to provide a platform for performance in so many ways. Truly the work of this dedicated group of volunteers is outstanding and long may it thrive.

Every time I look at my diary….I think oh my I’m busy….then just realise how lucky I am to be doing what I enjoy! The many varied facets of my life centre around music making, but of late some interesting turns have taken place which have seen me back in University…..teaching no less and perhaps the opportunity of renewing my love of contemporary dance….but more about that another time!

The other thing that strikes me every time I travel is how beautiful this country is and how privileged we are to have such amazing heritage and dare I say, it’s always more beautiful when the sun is shining!

So, still a few more rehearsals to do before a little break, but I really would like to thank everyone for all the enjoyment and music making we have done together! Have a great weekend everyone and maybe I will try and blog a little more frequently in future…but don’t count on it!