Founder and director of Convivium Singers
“In many ways, Royal Holloway was the perfect university for me. It offered a challenging music course, which combined academics with practical performance opportunities. During my time there I benefited from guidance and advice, which has shaped the various jobs I now undertake. I was particularly fortunate to be appointed as a choral scholar under Rupert Gough in the Chapel Choir. This introduced me to the world of professional performance and recording. The composition components to my degree helped me develop my own style of composition and I work closely with many current and former musicians and former lecturers from the college in recording new music and performing in the UK and Europe. Few people are successful in music by just being good at one thing, and the support and guidance I received at Royal Holloway has given me the chance to develop a sustainable portfolio career that is both exciting and enjoyable.”
Andrew Connolly, Class of 1982
General Manager, BBC Concert Orchestra
"I graduated from Royal Holloway towards the end of its pre-merger era in 1982. Being a decent horn player was probably my salvation. However, performing in everything from the Haydn Orchestra (with Dr Dack) to the Big Band (with Ian Gardiner) and organising a Last Night of the Proms concert in Founder's Dining Hall for Rag Week propelled me towards a career in orchestral management. Concentrating on mainly the commercial and broadcasting side of the business, I have worked at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Welsh National Opera, BBC Talent Rights and Radio 3. For the past ten years I have been the General Manager of the BBC Concert Orchestra."
Alex Breedon, Class of 2008
Music teacher, St Mary's Catholic High School, Chesterfield
"I am training to be a Secondary Music Teacher at St. Mary's Catholic High School, Chesterfield. My whole time at Royal Holloway has been absolutely brilliant, and it is hard to name any one particular occasion that stands out above the others. Most of the concerts have been brilliant, I remember in particular our induction concert, the concert with Matthew Stanley playing his solo, and Balkan group Tatcho Drom as well as the RHUL Andean Band! The social side of being part of the Music Society has also been fantastic, with regular events such as the three-legged pub crawl, the boat party and of course the many evenings spent in the Beehive! I think it is fair to say that through the presence of extra-curricular concerts and music society activities, music students (and staff) seemed to have a strong, friendly bond. This is something which I'm sure not many departments can boast.
"The academic work is obviously another important side. I have found it stimulating and interesting, particularly when we had more choice in the units we took as we progressed along the course. Interestingly, when talking to my friends from other unis doing music they did not seem to have anywhere near the choice of modules we had. For this I am grateful, for it allowed me to really follow things that I was interested in. The department seemed particularly supportive of students too, which made a lot of difference when faced with a difficult piece of work."
Helen Reid, pianist, Class of 2000
Helen Reid first came to public attention when she appeared on BBC2 in the National Keyboard Finals of the BBC Young Musician competition in 1998. In 2000 she won first prize in the Karic International Piano Competition. In 2006 she was hailed as a ‘rising star’ in The Independent magazine. Helen has given recitals all around in England, at venues including the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Fairfield Halls and Blackheath Halls, London, St. George’s, Bristol, Cheltenham, the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and the Aldeburgh and Buxton Festivals. She has performed in Spain, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Recent performances have included Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto with the Westmoreland Orchestra and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Aurelian Ensemble at Blackheath Halls. Helen is currently professor of piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Leeds College of Music, Trinity College of Music Junior Department
"I had a wonderful experience at Royal Holloway. The music department was an inspiring place to be. I am still working with John Woolrich and Peter Wiegold who taught me composition in first year. I was pretty terrible at composition, but quite good at playing other peoples'! A musical highlight for me was performing Beethoven's 4th Concerto with the Symphony Orchestra at St.John's, Smith Square. The many performance opportunities gave me a great start in my career and the supportive lecturers encouraged me to aim high."
See full interview with Helen Reid here
Leo Iossifidis, Class of 2002, working in the law sector in London
"I am currently working at Taylor Wessing (a law firm) as a paralegal in the intellectual property departments. I graduated from Royal Holloway in 2002 and then went back to Greece where I studied classical piano, counterpoint and harmony. Following that, I completed a year of military service (this is National Service and compulsory in Greece). I came back to the UK in 2005 and completed an MA in Arts Management at City University. Following that, I worked for a year before deciding to do a law conversion course and the LPC at the College of Law. This I completed in June 2011 and was awarded an LLB.
"I enjoyed my experience at Royal Holloway, especially the Audio Production course which was introduced in my third year and conducted by Brian Lock. I also thoroughly enjoyed participating in the Andean Band which was organised by Henry Stobart. My future plans are to work as a lawyer in media law, with a focus on copyright and music."
Geoff Warren, Class of 1978
Jazz flautist and conductor
"I was getting into jazz and posing with a soprano saxophone under my arm most of the time. One memory that sticks out is getting un upright piano up the spiral staircase in Chevithorne in the middle of the night with the lights out to avoid being seen by the security guards. It wasErik Levi who suggested me to jazz pianist Roger Dean who in turn suggested me to jazz composer Graham Collier, who introduced me onto the UK jazz scene in 1979. Graham died last year and at the London jazz Festival I’ll be conducting the Graham Collier Tribute. Over these 34 years I’ve learned to appreciate the level of training I was given, particularly the harmony teachers. They were amazing."
Thomas Hilder, class of 2010, university researcher
"I am a postdoctoral research assistant at the Center for World Music, Universität Hildesheim, Germany. In this position I am continuing research on music of the Sámi, of northern Scandinavia, embarking on a new project on music, gender and sexuality in a transnational context, whilst also organising ethnomusicology colloquia and teaching courses on world music.
"My time as an MMus and a PhD student at the Music Department at RHUL (2004-2010) was formative for my academic development and an extremely enriching period of my life. Most beneficial and inspiring were the emphasis on culturally-based and interdisciplinary approaches to music, the wonderful opportunities for academic exchange with fellow graduate students, and the constant support and guidance from the department staff. I feel that these experiences have provided me with an excellent and unique foundation for my career as a scholar of music."
Christel Philp, class of 2010, working in the law sector
"I have just completed the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at the College of Law. This is a one year conversion course, which allows you to then go on to study the Legal Practice Course with a view to becoming a solicitor, or the Bar Professional Training Course in order to become a Barrister. Both the LPC and the BPTC are a further year's study. You can do the GDL as long as you have a UK degree, which can be in any discipline.
"Doing a music degree allowed me to spend time studying what I love, and it's great that I have now been able to use it to go on and pursue a career in another field."
Visit the RHUL Alumni Pages for more Music alumni profiles