David and Music

David (piano)
David started on the piano at the age of six or so and progressed to the violin at ten (after an obligatory and painful recorder-learning experience at primary school). These experiences have convinced him beyond doubt that massed recorders is the worst possible collective sound young children can make!

Then, in secondary school, after a couple of years being a successful boy chorister (the Trinity Boys’ Choir performed regularly in professional concerts in and around London at the time), and a less inspired second violin in the school orchestra, somebody handed him a viola (“the middle line on the clef is middle C and the bottom string is C an octave lower”) and he sort of liked it. Being the only viola in all three schools orchestras for a while sealed his fate as a violist. By the time he left secondary school, David completed Grade 8 on both the piano and the viola, and was a regular player in many regular and ad hoc groups in Southern and Central London, including the Croydon Symphony Orchestra.

Conducting already fascinated David at secondary school, but the opportunities were few and far between. In the end, he took the advice of Ian Butterworth, the head of the Croydon Schools’ Music Centre, and organised his own group to perform for charity. In only the second concert, Wagner “Siegfried Idyll”, Mozart Piano Concerto K488 (with Robert Jones) and Mozart 40 were performed.

Between school and university, David got involved in a number of international music festivals, in particular Henze’s Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte in Montepulciano, Italy, where he was Orchestral Manager for three years from 1978-80 (and even conducted the off-stage band in Mahler 2, in Bolzano, Italy!). This was where he came into contact with the basel sinfonietta (a semi-professional orchestra) for the first time.

At Oxford University, all these musical themes were developed further. The singing continued in the Balliol Choir and Scola Cantorum. The viola was played all over the place, including the Oxford University Orchestra. The piano was notably performed in the Victorian Society, which involved considerable drinking, and culminated in a remarkable evening on a boat (the Society piano was indeed moved onto said boat). David conducted a number of string groups and was Musical Director of the O.U. Gilbert and Sullivan Society, culminating in a memorable performance of “The Pirates of Penzance” in the Oxford Playhouse. The highpoint in his conducting career was a Balliol Concert with the programme: Stravinsky “Circus Polka”, Grieg Piano Concerto (with Iwan Llewellyn) and Nielsen 4. On the organisational front, David was responsible for the Balliol Lunchtime Concerts and for Publicity for the Oxford University Orchestra. After leaving university, David came back to conduct Glinka’s “Ruslan and Ljudmila” Overture and Shostakovich’ 2nd Piano Concerto.

After university, in London, David played viola in the Salomon Orchestra and Chelsea Opera Group (both semi-professional groups), and conducted some ad hoc groups of his own. In Brussels, he was regular player in the Chapelle des Minimes (which performed Bach Cantata’s every month) and in various ad hoc ensembles. He also founded and conducted the Orchestra Con Brio. He also sang in the Brussel Madrigal Singers.

Since arriving in Switzerland, David has continued to play the viola in the basel sinfonetta, the Kammerorchester Kloten and other groups. After founding and conducting a series of concerts in Winterthur, termed Concertissimo, he went on to conduct the Orchestergesellschaft Winterthur for eight years from 1991-99. After that, he founded a group called musicmakers in 2000, which has sporadically performed in the Zurich area since then. David has also twice been guest conductor of the Kammerorchester Zürich-Affoltern. He is currently active in the musical life of the Prediger Church in Zurich, and is engaged as Sonntagskantor there. A great success were three performances of Britten’s “Noyes Fludde” in the Prediger Church in the Summer of 2011.

The arrival of our sons on the scene has led to some serious undusting of his piano-playing, resulting in considerably more piano accompaniments being practised at home!