Our Musical Director, Tim Roberts

Tim Roberts on making music

When I was about 14 years’ old, I sang in a performance of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem”. The scale of the piece, the music and the rehearsals really interested me, and, from then on, I was pretty hooked on music, and the manner of making music. I was singing a lot of music by composers such as William Byrd, Palestrina and other early composers, as well as playing the Oboe! Fortunately, my school had a very charismatic music teacher, who was liked by everyone, so rather than having no one share my newfound passions with, there was a group of us who could encourage each other. When I later went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music, London, the group of passionate people got much bigger.

Like most musicians around the world, our lives have changed in the past twenty years. When I started playing in the late 1980s, you would have a specific, single job, like playing in an orchestra, or working for an arts related organisation. Nowadays, most musicians are more “generalists” – playing, teaching, examining, coaching and employing other ways of keeping a career in music alive. I think this is quite similar for many people in their chosen paths today. It can be quite intimidating, but I think we probably develop more skills this way, and can explore more paths to music making. For me, making music is a passion, but I think, more importantly, I want to let other people see if they experience the same wonder I feel when I hear great music.

Let me give you one short example: there is a piece by the Italian Baroque composer, Claudio Monteverdi, called “The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610”. You are not likely to come across this piece often, but listen to the very opening movement on YouTube. It is a 3-minute piece written 450 years ago that will knock your socks off! More importantly, in a way I don’t understand, it puts our place on this planet, today, into a sort of perspective that makes everything seem to make more sense.

So like many of my colleagues around the world, I am very happy to make music in many different ways. I am delighted to be a member of The Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, thrilled to direct the Johannesburg Bach Choir, love creating projects for The Apple Green Orchestra, The Florida Symphony Orchestra, The St Francis Baroque Festival, and other groups, and in any and many other ways, encouraging people to listen to music! – Tim Roberts