2020 has been quite a year. For many of us working in the arts, our lives have changed beyond recognition. Covid-19 continues to spread throughout the world and we have all had to find ways to cope with its devastation.
Returning to ‘normal’ no longer seems to be an option and the ‘new normal’ hasn’t quite materialised yet but we probably have a rough idea how things will turn out. More hand washing, sanitising and social distancing and less travel, concerts and sporting events for us to attend.
In common with many of my professional colleagues, many of the orchestras and ensembles I am associated with are no longer giving performances. When these performances do take place they have much reduced personnel to make them commercially viable.
But amongst this gloom there is some positive news as I now have a wonderful opportunity to focus on my teaching life and to work in a vibrant community that will be stimulating and challenging.
On August 14th I move to Thailand to take up the position as Head of Woodwind and Brass at Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok, one of Asia’s top schools.
Music is a flagship for Shrewsbury International School and the music department is renowned for staging high quality concerts and recitals. The school has an international roster of specialist music teachers with many students progressing to the finest music conservatoires and universities, often pursuing a professional career.
Chris Seal, the Principal of the school, has been a top cricketer and is well versed in the complexities of the music scene as his brother, Michael, is a professional conductor, currently Associate Conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
The Music School enjoys a beautiful space overlooking the river. It is progressive in design with teaching rooms, multiple practice rooms, a dedicated (Mac) computer suite and specialised rehearsal space, centred around an outstanding Recital Hall with Concert Grand Piano. Major performances are staged in the 600 seat Memorial Hall Auditorium, complete with with its own Steinway Grand Piano.
All students from EY1 to Y9 enjoy music lessons as part of their timetabled curriculum learning, with a number of students going on to study the subject at GCSE and A-Level.
Year 5/6 classes also have one lesson of brass/woodwind tuition, where they are given access to an array of instrument resources, bought especially for this purpose and which has led to many students choosing to pursue the study of these instruments individually as part of the school’s co-curricular programme.
I’m also looking forward to working with Rowena Calvert, a superb London-based cellist, who joins the school as Head of Strings. Rowena and I have often shared the concert stage as performers so it will be a delight to collaborate with her on a variety of projects at Shrewsbury International School.