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Tuesday 23 April 2019

Alumni spotlight - Adam Crighton, bass trombonist (Class of 2014).

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Adam joined St Mary’s Music School in 2011 and studied bass trombone and piano. He went on to study at Guildhall School of Music and Drama from where he has just graduated, winning The Armourers’ & Brasiers’ Prize for Brass. Building on his love of theatre Adam is currently playing trombone in Trevor Nunn’s five star revival of Fiddler on the Roof at the West End's Playhouse Theatre following its sell-out run at the Menier Chocolate Factory. Meanwhile he continues to play independently and his quartet Aeris Brass have just won British Trombone Society Quartet competition 2019. Adam is also a member of Carnyx Brass, directed by John Kenny, and made up of students and young professional brass players who were once members of the brass ensemble at St Mary’s Music School.

Q. How long were you at St Mary’s Music School for?

Three years; I joined in S5 and stayed for S6 and the S6 Extension year.

Q. What were your ambitions when you started here?

Much the same as they are now! To surround myself with like-minded people, and to always try and improve as much as I can.

Q. What was a highlight of your time at St Mary’s?

As a regular opportunity, the brass ensemble (led by John Kenny) was definitely one of the most important and enjoyable parts of my time at St. Mary's. To further emphasize this, the whole group now all live and work as musicians in London, and have done multiple projects together under the name Carnyx Brass.

 As a one-off highlight - performing Mozart's Requiem in the cathedral for the Easter Concert 2013.

St Mary's Music School Brass Ensemble 2013

Q. Why did you choose Guildhall and what has that experience meant for you?

I chose Guildhall because I felt it was the right place for me. Choosing where to further your education is difficult and can't be decided by simply looking at a prospectus and/or website. I was lucky to have spent a lot of time at GSMD throughout my development, so I knew it was the best place for me. I would encourage any pupils approaching audition season to visit the various colleges and universities, have a couple of lessons, and meet some of the students, so they are the most informed they can be.

My experience at Guildhall has been fantastic. I had a lot of ups and downs at the start due to a whole manner of circumstances and the staff and department were extremely supportive to help me through that. The teaching is first class, and there are a lot of good projects each year. In addition, they actively encourage students to diversify and explore many different musical avenues - this was something of utmost importance to me and influenced my decision hugely.

Q. You have just won The Armourers & Brasiers’ Prize for Brass at GSMD.  Tell us more about that.

The Armourers & Brasiers’ Prize for Brass is an annual competition within the brass department at GSMD. It is a solo competition, generally with a preliminary round and then a final round. We had the prelim back in February and the final was last week.

Q. How did the position at Fiddler on the Roof come about? What is the role and how long for?

I was asked to be a part of Fiddler by the theatre that is was housed in, (the Menier Chocolate Factory), from November to March as I had worked for them on a run of the show Barnum last year. I was contracted for three months, and then, off the back of a sold-out run and very good reviews the show got a transfer to London's West End, where we started in mid-March, with more or less the whole original company staying with it.

My role is primarily a trombonist in the band, however during one scene I am one of five band members to go on stage and be the on-stage band!

Tickets are currently available until the end of September so I will be there until at least then!

Adam Crighton on the stage of Fiddler on the Roof

Q. Was this something you had always wanted to do?

Theatre work is certainly something I've wanted to do for a long time. I have a lot of musical interests, however, and like to constantly be keeping variety in what I do. Theatre is perfect for this, as it's quite easy to 'dep' out a show to do other work.

Q. What was it like playing for Fiddler the first time and how does it feel now?

Fiddler has been a favourite musical of mine for years, so it's wonderful to have the chance to be a part of it now. It really emphasizes how fortunate I feel to be doing what I love doing as a job.

Q. How has your experience at St Mary’s Music School helped you in your achievements to date?

At St. Mary's I was provided with top class teaching across a large scale of musical elements e.g. Individual lessons, brass ensemble, monthly jazz days, aural, orchestra. This meant that when I left I had a good amount of experience across a lot of different things, which naturally all help each other and make you a more rounded musician. In addition, from day one at St. Mary's I was surrounded by musicians my age who were more developed and experienced than me. This was where I feel most improvement happened, as you play with your friends regularly and all bounce off each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Q. What would you say to any prospective pupils about joining St Mary’s Music School?

St. Mary's gives you a brilliant opportunity to finish your general schooling while focussing on music to a very high level. It is therefore both a perfect stepping stone to those wanting to go on to study music, and also a chance for students who are unsure of their future to experience high-level music study without cutting ties with their standard education.

Adam Crighton holding the award for his quartet Aeris Brass by the British Trombone Society

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