Inspiration is a key part of Royal Holloway. While the buildings, surroundings and history provide the foundations, it is the achievements of our staff, students and alumni that are particularly inspiring.
To celebrate this, we decided to feature some of their stories for a new series, to find out who influenced them to achieve their goals and see if their story can inspire others.
This month, the press office caught up with talented Music student Matthew Abrams. At just 20, he is set to become one of the youngest musical directors of a London show after landing a job in I Do! I Do!.
Matthew plays the trumpet and piano as well as conducting and composing music. Directing the music for I Do! I Do! will only be his second professional job.
A romantic musical about marriage, I Do! I Do! was the first two-person show ever performed on Broadway and will be on at the Riverside Studios, in Hammersmith, from tomorrow, Wednesday 5 December, to Friday 7 December.
We spoke to Matthew before opening night about nerves, luck and inspirations:
Who has been your inspiration in achieving your goals?
So many people have inspired me throughout the years, in so many different ways. Firstly my parents who started my musical career by making me have piano lessons from the age of nine. Then many school teachers have been great to me, mainly my head of music at Formby High School, Steve Cook, whose enthusiasm, passion and determination drove me forward and just made me want to be creative. Also, I wrote to my Year 8 music teacher, Stephanie Gomaa, when she left the school to say that because of her amazing passion and charisma, I would one day be a professional musician and because of her, it WOULD happen.
How did you get the job of Musical Director in I Do! I Do!?
During last summer, I was working on a production of Pirates of Penzance in Essex, which was my first ever professional job. I had known the Musical Director, Ben Holden for a while, and he liked my work on Pirates, and recommended me for the I Do! I Do job. I was very shocked and extremely flattered. My mum was the first person I called after I found out I had got the job!
How do you manage to juggle the job with your studies?
A lot of hard work and playing catch-up! I sat down with the producer and the Director and worked out a viable rehearsal schedule, so when I had lectures they could just work on scenes and other things.
Are you nervous about the opening night?
The key is to have everything well prepared in good time. There is nothing worse than having a band rehearsal a few days before and realising that nothing fits! The team are incredibly supportive and I know no-one will let me down, so I’m feeling very optimistic.
What is a typical day working on the show?
As Musical Director for this show, we are rehearsing from 10am to 5pm every day in some really exciting rehearsal venues in Covent Garden and on Marylebone High Street. I do about a half an hour vocal warm up, and normally spend the rest of the morning learning the material and choreography, while blocking the scene with the Director. After lunch, we tend to go over what we've done in the morning and run the scenes we'd been rehearsing.
What does the future hold?
I feel very lucky to have got this opportunity and still can't believe it. All of my friends have been extremely supportive and proud of what I'm doing. People that I meet during this process can't believe I'm only 20 - but that could be more to do with my receding hairline! A lot of people ask me where is left to go having already reached this position, but I'm not really thinking like that. I've been very lucky to get this job, and will be very lucky to get another one – I’ll just take it one step at a time!
For more information about I Do! I Do! and to buy tickets, visit the Riverside Studios website.
Posted on Tuesday 4th December 2012