Our Alumni

Phillip Cooke (PhD 2008)

Dr Phillip Cooke

Astudiodd Phillip Cooke (PhD 2008) yn yr Ysgol Cerddoriaeth ac mae bellach yn Bennaeth Cerddoriaeth yn Adran Cerddoriaeth Prifysgol Aberdeen. Dywed i’r cyfleoedd addysgu a roddwyd iddo fel myfyriwr PhD ei helpu gyda’i yrfa arfaethedig yn ogystal â rhoi’r profiad angenrheidiol ar gyfer ymgeisio am swyddi ar ôl graddio.

Fy hoff atgofion o fy nghyfnod yng Nghaerdydd yw’r cyfleoedd oedd ar gael i fi fel cyfansoddwr ac academydd. Dysgais lawer ond cefais lawer o brofiadau hefyd. Roedd gweithio gyda Cherddorfa Genedlaethol Gymreig y BBC yn uchafbwynt, fel oedd gweithio gydag amrywiol ensembles a pherfformwyr proffesiynol.

Roedd hefyd yn wych cael bod yng Nghaerdydd, wrth iddi dyfu’n ddinas fyd-eang. Roedd gweld yr adeiladau newydd yn ymddangos a gwylio’r ddinas yn dod o hyd i’w hunaniaeth yn rhywbeth gwych i gael bod yn rhan fach ohono.

Cyflwynodd yr Ysgol Cerddoriaeth set wych o alluoedd i mi eu defnyddio fel cyfansoddwr, athro ac academydd, ac rwyf i’n dal i ddefnyddio pob un heddiw. Yn sicr roedd y cyfleoedd a gefais i addysgu yn gymorth i fi ddod yn ddarlithydd gwell, a helpodd y cyfle i weithio gyda cherddorion gwych fi fel cyfansoddwr.

Ar ôl graddio bûm i’n ffodus i gael Cymrodoriaeth Datblygu Gyrfa yng Nghyfadran Cerddoriaeth Prifysgol Rhydychen. Fe’i cyfunais gyda Chymrodoriaeth Ymchwil Iau yng Ngholeg Queen’s, Rhydychen. Roedd yn newid mawr o Gaerdydd, ond yn gam buddiol arall yn fy ngyrfa.

Gweithiais yn Rhydychen am bum mlynedd cyn symud i Aberdeen. Rwyf i wedi parhau i gyfansoddi, gan weithio gyda nifer o gorau ac ensembles blaenllaw’r wlad gyda llawer o recordiadau, darllediadau a chyhoeddiadau.

Ar hyn o bryd, fi yw Pennaeth Cerddoriaeth yr Adran Cerddoriaeth ym Mhrifysgol Aberdeen. Does dim dau ddiwrnod yr un fath, ond ers dod yn Bennaeth, rwyf i wedi cyfnewid darlithio am gyfarfodydd, sy’n drueni mewn rhai ffyrdd ond mae’n ddiddorol bod yn rhan o ddatblygiad strategol y ddisgyblaeth.

Yn ddiweddar hefyd rwyf i wedi cael fy mhenodi’n arholwr allanol ar raglenni israddedig ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd.

Fy nghyngor i fyfyrwyr presennol yw bod maes cyfansoddi a’r byd academaidd yn hynod o anodd i fynd iddyn nhw, ond mae hynny’n iawn. Ambell waith  mae pethau’n anodd ond, heb geisio swnio fel canllaw hunangymorth, po fwyaf o bethau anodd sydd yn rhaid i chi eu goresgyn, y mwyaf y byddwch ar eich ennill o’u goresgyn nhw.

Byddwn i’n dweud wrthyf fy hun fel person ifanc i wneud y gorau o bob cyfle a ddaw a mwynhau cael y lle a’r amser i weithio’n galed ar y peth sy’n bwysig i chi. Unwaith y bydd gennych chi swydd lawn amser a phlant, does dim cymaint o le ac amser ar gael i chi.

Pe bai’n rhaid i fi ddisgrifio Prifysgol Caerdydd mewn pum gair byddwn i’n dewis: cynhwysol, cosmopolitan, byd-eang, cofiadwy ac wedi’i thanbrisio.

Yr argraff sydd wedi aros gyda fi o’r brifysgol yw lle croesawgar gyda phobl wych a chyfnod gwirioneddol ddifyr yn fy mywyd.

Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, Music, Our Alumni

Phillip Cooke (PhD 2008)

Dr Phillip Cooke

Phillip Cooke (PhD 2008) studied at the School of Music and is now Head of Music at the Department of Music at the University of Aberdeen. He credits the teaching opportunities he was given as a PhD student in helping with his future career and giving him the necessary experience needed when applying for positions after graduation.

My favourite memories of my time at Cardiff are the opportunities that were available to me as a composer and an academic. I learned a lot, but I experienced a lot as well. Working with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales was a highlight, as was working with various professional ensembles and performers.

It was also great to be in Cardiff as it grew and became a global city. Seeing new buildings appear and watching the city find its identity was a great thing to be a small part of.

The School of Music gave me a great set of tools to use as a composer, a teacher and an academic, all of which I still use today. The teaching opportunities I was given certainly helped me become a better lecturer, and the opportunity to work with great musicians helped me as a composer.

After graduating I was very lucky to get a Career Development Fellowship at the Faculty of Music at the University of Oxford. I combined it with a Junior Research Fellowship at The Queen’s College, Oxford. It was a big change from Cardiff, but another very useful career step.

I worked in Oxford for five years before moving to Aberdeen. I’ve kept on composing, working with many of the country’s leading choirs and ensembles with lots of recordings, broadcasts and publications.

I am currently the Head of Music at the Department of Music at the University of Aberdeen. No day is the same as another, but since becoming Head, I’ve swapped lecturing for meetings, which is a shame in some ways but it is interesting to be part of the strategic development of the discipline.

I have also recently been appointed as an external examiner for the undergraduate programmes at Cardiff University.

My advice to current students is that both composition and academia are extremely difficult to break into, but that’s ok. Sometimes things are difficult but, without wanting to sound like a self-help guide, the more difficult things you have to overcome the more satisfaction you will gain from overcoming them.

I would tell my past self to make the most of all the opportunities available and enjoy having the space and time to really work on the thing you love. Once you have a full-time job and children, there isn’t quite the same amount of time and space.

If I had to describe Cardiff University in five words I would choose: inclusive, cosmopolitan, global, memorable and underrated.

My lasting impression of the university is of a welcoming place with wonderful people and a genuinely enjoyable period of my life.