From members of the National Youth Wind Ensemble:
“I have had the most amazing year in NYWE and it wouldn’t have been the same if it wasn’t for you. You have an astounding ability to reach inside each and every one of us and somehow make us play the best we have ever played, time after time.
Your rehearsals have been possibly the most inspiring rehearsals I have ever attended. I know that, under your guidance, we have all grown tremendously as individuals and musicians. I have never, and probably will never again, be as nervous as I was just before our performance in Sweden. That feeling overwhelmed me, as I had never ‘bothered’ about orchestral performance before; I thought that, as one was in a group, it didn’t matter. How wrong I was.
I now have a fresher attitude to the music I play and, when I feel like giving up on ‘getting that bit perfect’, I honestly am jolted awake by your determination and drive, and I carry on. The results our orchestra achieved were amazing. Thank you.”
“I just wanted to thank you again for a staggering last concert and for the last few years I’ve known you. I will very much miss NYWE – I can’t see myself being part of anything as extraordinary or rewarding for a very long time to come. This is undoubtedly why I kept coming back – there was nothing else around coming close to the same level of exploration of and commitment to new music. This doesn’t come from nothing, so I want to thank you for creating what have become the greatest musical experiences, and really life experiences, I have had.”
“Four years ago when I first got into NYWE, my musical knowledge and tastes were very limited, and I tended to dismiss modern music as rubbish without really listening to it. You can imagine then that my first NYWE course was a little bit of a shock! I had never had to work that hard and that intensely before, and it was on music that was completely alien to me.
However, your passion and enthusiasm for the medium and music are so contagious, and I found myself wanting to try and understand what this modern music was all about. I began hearing things in the music that I’d never heard before, and finding the music in the notes. Before too long, I was a convert!
I don’t believe any of this would have been possible with any other conductor and leader. Your vision and commitment to the Ensemble and to new music are extraordinary, and inspire the whole group to be better and strive for perfection. It has been an honour and a privilege to work with you and I am very proud to have been a part of NYWE.”
From members of the Wiltshire Youth Orchestra:
“The responses of the various audiences aptly reflect the worthiness and undeniable value of your latest venture. From my limited experience, I would suggest that approaching the musical aspect of The Ring from "inside outwards" is far the best way for those who can. It is unfortunate that the scale of the masterpiece restricts opportunities for live performances.
I was particularly moved by the comparisons you made between The Ring and Shakespeare's great tragedies. That Western society is, to a comparatively large extent, deprived of access to a work which embodies such poignant and disarming insights into humanity and innovative musical genius is a tragedy indeed. For this reason do I have so great a cause to be thankful for my involvement in this latest rendition of a small portion of it.”
“The four years I spent working with you gave me some of my most rewarding orchestral experiences ever, notably leading Scheherazade, and of course leading the Wagner [Siegfried Act I]. Even as a top class professional orchestral player, it is unlikely that one would get the chance to lead such works, and I regard myself as being incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunities which came my way, opportunities that were instigated and brought about by your hard work and vision. You have given me some of the best times of my life, times which will be with me for the rest of my days.”
From Judith Bingham, following a performance of Three American Icons at Cadogan Hall, London, in April 2015:
“It really was very good, and I meant it when I said I thought it was the best performance of the piece I had heard. What struck me afterwards was how you had really got inside the rhythmic world of the piece in a way that no-one else had, you definitely unleashed the inner jazz demon. I vacillate these days between writing something like 'loose like a blues,' which a lot of English players just ignore, or try and notate the looseness, which can end up looking very complicated and confusing. It really just needs players who can do it naturally and un-selfconsciously, like your alto sax player, who was wonderful I thought.”
From Anthony Gilbert, following a performance of Dream Carousels in April 2011:
“I cannot thank or praise you enough, ever, for the superb performance of Dream Carousels last Saturday in Hatfield; I’m almost speechless with admiration for the fine, sensitive playing.”
From Michael Ball, following NYWE’s performance of Omaggio at the 2007 WASBE Conference in Killarney:
“You will have been aware that I was very deeply moved by your performance of Omaggio. A work which for long was regarded as almost unplayable has slowly come to be accepted as part of the core contemporary repertoire for the wind ensemble. Your 2000 BBC Prom and last Thursday’s concert in Killarney were revelatory of what could be achieved by a conductor who had really taken the trouble to get thoroughly inside the score and had the good fortune to have at his disposal an ensemble of young, seemingly fearless players, brimming over with talent and matadorial spirit: your 2007 Omaggio was for me a definitive account of the work.”