Brian was Director of Music at the United World College of the Atlantic from 1987 until his retirement in August 2010. He had previously held the post of Assistant Music teacher from 1978. “Teaching for a living means that a great deal of one’s time is taken up with other people, but being in charge of the music at Atlantic College has meant that I have been able to conduct orchestras and choirs, organise festivals with professional musicians, and generally create a practical music making atmosphere in the context of a sixth form environment. I have always believed in leading from the front.”
The College is an international pre-university college for 16-18 year old students, that is scholarship based, and this means that the students who want to be educated there are motivated, lively people, since the majority of them come from many distant parts of the world. This produces a unique mix of young people which is very special, and which gives a powerful energetic environment in which to produce music. It also means that Western music is not the only ‘lingua franca’ which holds sway there, and the teaching and production of non-Western music at the College has provided valuable experience for him. “Playing and performing Javanese Gamelan for instance, with other musicians, dancers and singers has been something that I have valued. I have learned a lot in this job”
Most of the time he has been involved with the regular weekly concerts; the European tours of the 40-strong Tour Choir; creating music festivals; educational outreach programmes; conducting operas etc etc… which is perhaps the normal fare for this sort of post. “It is a busy life and a rewarding one, chief of which has been seeing young musicians grow into professionals, be they cellists, guitarists, singers, or even composers. Enabling young people to develop their potential, find themselves, is, and has been, well worth all the hard work.”
This was established from the late 1960s and had always had a reputation for excellence and for visiting European countries to perform to local communities, friends of the United World Colleges through the National Committees that exist in all those countries, hospices and other choirs. It has been a 48-strong youth SATB choir since its inception, and during my tenure I continued that tradition, as it seemed to me that performing on tour benefited those in the choir, sometimes introducing the members to all the difficulties, and rewards, of performing to a public, as well as the audience themselves.
We generally performed a mix of sacred and secular, usually ‘a capella’, including motets, spirituals, part songs, folk songs, and sometimes cantatas with accompaniment by our own students. Soloists were always taken from the choir, and despite the intensive learning curve the tours, and the concerts, were always rewarding and enjoyable. I have many wonderful memories of those tours, the members of the choir and the music that we sang. I would like to thank all the many students who participated in the Tour Choir over the years for the wonderful times we had and the marvelous music making.