Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and pursue a career in music?
Two organisations: Sing for Pleasure and the Association of British Choral Directors.
Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life?
The teaching practices of Kodaly and Dalcroze (and all the brilliant teachers I’ve had during this training); my complete piano training which has informed so much of my musicianship; my dance training, which ultimately allowed me to feel, express and lead music so deeply and passionately; Patrick Larley (my A-Level music teacher) for revealing Bach chorales, harmony and composition; Ralph Allwood (during my time at Eton Choral Courses) for exposure to sacred choral literature and psalm singing; Dr John Dickson (my mentor during my DMA in Texas) for enabling and believing in me.
What, for you, is the most challenging part of being a conductor? And the most fulfilling aspect?
The most challenging part is the plate spinning and multi-tasking, not just in rehearsal and performance, but behind the scenes, ostensibly being all things to all people! The most fulfilling aspect is the satisfaction of realising the culmination of all the hard work, and enabling something unique in performance. The leadership role of the conductor is a great privilege.
As a conductor, how do you communicate your ideas about a work to the orchestra/choir?
I work with choirs in the main and communicate my ideas kinaesthetically, gesturally and verbally; hopefully from a place of honesty, integrity, passion, knowledge and sincerity.
How exactly do you see your role? Inspiring the players/singers? Conveying the vision of the composer?
I see myself as an enabler and a facilitator; someone who can convince, guide, educate and enlighten a musical ensemble to invest, trust and believe in me.
Is there one work which you would love to conduct?
Bach Mass in B Minor/St Matthew Passion
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
One with the perfect acoustic! I especially like Holy Trinity Church, Guildford and St Stephen’s Walbrook, London.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
Genuine, warm, kind-hearted musicians, of any kind. Basically, the majority of my musical friends
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
A great journey/process and a memorable, satisfying end product, resulting in new connections, ideas and friendships. Also, being invited back!
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Practise!; invest in continuing professional development; be open to new musical ideas; don’t try to run before you can walk (but aim high anyway!); don’t sell your soul; if you’re giving out too much and aren’t getting what you need in return, know when to give something up/move on; ultimately music is about people and the human spirit/condition – ignore that at your peril!
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Space to think and breathe. Time to cycle, walk, dance, row, play, sing, socialise. Educating and enabling aspiring musicians. Witnessing inspiring music making from all corners of the globe. Ensuring all children have access to high quality music education both in and out of school. Knowing my loved ones are safe and healthy.
Amy is a passionate advocate for choral singing and choral conductor training. She is sought-after for her dynamic and engaging teaching style, and her wealth of choral pedagogical experience.
Graduating with First Class Honours and a Master’s Degree in Piano Performance (UK), Amy went on to be awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts, specialising in Choral Conducting, from Texas Tech University (USA). She is the Director of Training for the Association of British Choral Directors, an organisation that sits at the forefront of choral conductor training in the UK. She tutors on their extended courses, sits on its advisory council and was the Artistic Director of its annual convention in Winchester, in 2016.