For virtually every musician their instrument is an integral part of their life: some string players play instruments handed down from generation to generation; concert pianists spend their lives with hundreds of different pianos all with their different idiosyncrasies but for choral directors, their instrument is people’s voices and, in the course of a career, they will deal with many hundreds of them.
Also, part of the choral director's instrument is the building they work in – as much part of the end result of sound as the voices.
In the last 35 years, I have had the privilege of conducting in America, Canada, Hungary Ireland, Norway, France Italy, Belgium and definitely not to be forgotten – Liechtenstein.
I have worked with mixed choirs, ladies choirs, male voice choirs and massed choirs, ranging from the very accomplished to the scratch choir, in cathedrals, churches, concert halls, railway stations and stately homes.
Nothing, for me, is as rewarding as starting out with a new set of repertoire and working on interpretation, with the eventual result of melding singers into a cohesive and beautifully sounding group, making music together in rehearsals and then in the instant of a performance situation.
Of course it may look easy, and some people would indeed question the need for a choral director anyway, but as any good choral director will tell you, it's all about preparation - knowing the score, pouring over details, practicing hand movements, singing through lines and pre-empting mistakes, inspiring singers, leading a group, introducing singers to music they may never come across otherwise.
I have learnt from some fine teachers, from some of my own horrendous pitfalls and disasters, and am still learning – but every time I get up in front of my wonderful singers, together we strive to make beautiful music, whether that be Thomas Tallis or Cole Porter, Eleanor Daley or the great J S Bach himself. Through countless hundreds of rehearsals and with singers I have known for years, to those I just met yesterday, it is always fulfilling and I cannot imagine life without it.
This blog is not here to publicise my book on the subject of conducting (though it don’t harm to mention it!), it's about reaching out to you, in the hope that whoever is reading this might wish to book me as a guest conductor, or come to one of my sing days or workshops or join one of my choirs and we get the opportunity to make music together. It doesn't matter whether you're 50 or 5000 miles away, I am always delighted to be asked to work with other conductors and their singers and share the joy of making fine choral music collectively. As one of my singers puts it:
'I am a member of two choirs directed by Tim. I have been singing with him as my conductor for the last 21 years. I have vast admiration for his grasp of the music, his comprehensive knowledge of the repertoire and his ability to draw the music from the choirs. I have been privileged to experience his direction, energy, passion, and bold choices in choosing repetoire and developing his singers and choir. Working with Tim has been, and continues to be an experience of joy, fun and humanity and one of profound enrichment'.