I realise it’s been a while since I’ve posted, I didn’t quite manage this particular new year’s resolution of regular blogs! Sorry, time did that annoying thing of going by with lots happening — and we’re at the end of July already. As a consequence of the hiatus though, I’ve got lots of news to tell.

In January I successfully passed my confirmation of registration interview for my PhD. The panel provided constructive feedback and were impressed with my research to-date. Over the past six months I have visited several historical instrument collections as part of my research, including the Bate Collection in Oxford and the Cobbe Collection held at Hatchlands Park in Surrey. It was a fantastic opportunity to play keyboard instruments dating from the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries. A particular highlight was King George IV’s Streicher on loan from Her Majesty the Queen at the Cobbe Collection, as well as Conrad Graf’s grand piano at the same collection. In both instances Schubert’s music came alive. The music is beautiful on a modern instrument but the singing tone, responsiveness and overall nature of the contemporary instruments reveals an inner beauty otherwise only hinted at. My experience playing a range of contemporary instruments and learning more about their workings is invaluable to my PhD work. The main body of my thesis is now planned, my job for the summer is to write.

The academic year is now over, and it’s been a busy couple of terms. At the Royal Birmingham Junior Conservatoire the piano class progressed well culminating in a successful recital at the end of June. In Liverpool I had my busiest academic lecturing year so far, with style composition, analysis, history and performance modules under my instruction. It’s been a good experience balancing the time and also seeing courses through to the marking and moderating stage. On a freelance basis I’ve also accompanied exams over this past term and enjoyed coaching students in preparation for auditions and future endeavours.

Early Music As Education (EMAE) is going from strength-to-strength. I haven’t been involved with the tutoring this year because of other work, but was fortunate to join them in July for several concerts around Liverpool and their tour to San Ginesio in Italy. San Ginesio suffered an earthquake two years ago and a lot of the town is currently uninhabitable, our tour was organised by Selìfa (a San Ginesio based musical association) in collaboration with the Municipality of San Ginesio and the Mountain Union of the Blue Mountains. It was an opportunity to experience Italian culture, work with Italian musicians (Il Furibondo trio) and learn about San Ginesio’s history and future plans. It was a fantastic experience for all involved, especially wonderful to see how the students have grown in confidence and become a musical family.

A few other highlights of 2018 so far include my first Gaudy at Magdalen College, Oxford – can’t believe it’s 11 years this time since I started University. It was lovely to go to the reunion and see, not only friends, but also fellow Magdalen alumni and old tutors. I’ve also enjoyed Liverpool in the sunshine as well as eclectic concerts at the Philharmonic Hall and Arts Clubs.

That’s all for now, time to carry on with my writing. Enjoy the sunshine and take care everyone, further up-dates soon.

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