Nathan is currently studying MMus Composition at the School of Music. Its friendly and supportive atmosphere have helped him develop as a researcher and a composer. All this has been possible thanks to his Postgraduate Taught Scholarship.
Can you tell us a little bit about the programme in your own words?
“This postgraduate course, unlike many comparable in academic institutions across the UK, allows aspiring research/academic composers to study under a collection of Britain’s most inspiring and established composers in a musically nurturing and thriving environment. Working alongside esteemed composers such as Robert Fokkens and Arlene Sierra allows a young musician such as myself to witness first-hand what it takes to become a working composer of repute.”
What did the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship mean to you?
“Without cliché, achieving the Postgraduate Taught Scholarship was vital for any chance of future studies at Cardiff. It has allowed me to progress to another significant stage in my academic learning.”
Have you been able to secure funding from other places, how else are you supporting your studies?
“Alongside the Cardiff University Postgraduate Taught Scholarship, I have been incredibly fortunate to receive independent funding from both the James Pantyfedwen Foundation and based on compositional prowess, received a Postgraduate Award from the highly-sought, Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust. Throughout my Postgraduate studies, I have also (where applicable) been working tirelessly with both the Rhondda Cynon Taff and Caerphilly Music Services as a Vocal Tutor in Primary and Secondary Schools, and Musical Director for the Rhondda Cynon Taff Chamber and Transition Choirs.”
What were your motivations for undertaking a postgraduate degree at Cardiff?
“Several reasons led to the decision of continuing my studies into postgraduate level. Primarily, the reputation of the School of Music in Cardiff and its respected staff, the familiar location for developing existing skills, and the need to improve one’s independent research and knowledge for a future career, were contributing factors.”
Is there anything about your postgraduate course that has stood out in your experience?
“The sense of community, within not only the postgraduate collective, in the School of Music is an outstanding environment to develop as a musician within ANY musical discipline – a relief, in cold contrast to other academic institutions I have come across. Also, the opportunities that one can obtain, be it independently or through the course itself, are abundant and vital for a developing musician.”
What do you think of Cardiff as a place to live as a postgraduate?
“Having the wonderful insight to the city from doing my undergraduate studies at Cardiff, I knew Cardiff would be just as welcoming for postgraduate studies. The city is now very different with the eyes of a postgraduate student – for the better. The city is full of social spaces that are postgraduate friendly (as an evening’s sleep seems more precious as a postgrad. student!) such Zerodegrees, Bacchus, 10FeetTall, Barocco, etc. ”
How do you think your postgraduate course will contribute to your future career plans?
“Much like any other future prospects in academia in any discipline, the need to improve one’s independent research and knowledge is imperative to succeed. As aforementioned, this postgraduate course (and its generous funding) has allowed me to progress to another significant stage in my academic learning.”
Has studying for a postgraduate degree at Cardiff University lived up to your expectations?
“Yes – and have exceeded them! The opportunity to receive outstanding tuition from both internal and external composers and academic musicological researchers is has been paramount to my studies at Cardiff. Specifically, as a composer, the opportunity to write works for internationally established ensembles such as the Carducci Quartet and Consortium V are incredible bonuses for a young composer such as myself.”
What are your biggest achievements as a postgraduate student at Cardiff University so far?
“Recent commissions include two liturgical anthems, Te lucis ante terminum for performance at Llandaff Cathedral, South Wales, and A babe is born for performance at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London on 30th December 2013; and Intrada for Solo Horn (performed by Martin Davis at University Concert Hall, Corbett Road as part of Britten 100 Concert in December 2013). Dioscuri for thirteen players received its performance by members of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales as part of a Young Composer-in-Residence programme in Summer 2013. Upcoming commitments include a Composer-in-Residency with Sinfonia Newydd alongside Gabirel Prokofiev, Joby Burgess and Nonclassical in February 2014.
“Besides my studies as a composer, I have also been privileged to conduct several ensembles at Cardiff University School of Music; including the Cardiff University Symphony Chorus, Palestrina Singers of Cardiff University and several ad hoc visiting outreach projects to the University. ”
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