Music

Equally strong – perhaps meeting an inner need even more deeply than the visual arts – is my love of music. Undoubtedly nurtured by my father – a good singer (we would sing together for hours during long family car journeys in my childhood) who was an expert on the music of Mozart, Beethoven and Verdi. With him I developed a love of opera and am still moved to tears by the sheer beauty of the music (far more than the story) of Rigoletto, Parsifal and Don Giovanni.

When I was 12 I sang with the Finchley Children’s Music Group (an amazing initiative that provided innumerable young singers for roles in operas and musicals in the West End of London). Through this group I had the tremendous privilege of working over 2 years with Benjamin Britten (whose music I have loved every since – with its haunting sounds evoking the Suffolk landscape where he lived and worked).

Let's Make an Opera, Benjamin Britten, Vaudeville Theatre, 1964Having a strong singing voice and playing the guitar (even if in a rather pedestrian way) led to a 3-year period in my late teens of busking in the London underground system (the pedestrian tunnel at the Charing Cross end of Tottenham Court Road had some of the best acoustics in London and my ‘take home pay’ each evening was impressive). This income enabled me to pay my way through college. It also led to some unexpected opportunities – including setting a Spanish poet to music and singing the result at an Amnesty International event in London in the late 1960’s.