Graham Coatman, musical director

 31 July 2012

Graham Coatman works as a composer, musical director and pianist. He also lectures and is artistic director of a music festival.

"It's great to be able to create a work in which music, spectacle, words, scenery, drama and emotion all come together in a combination that

Hometown?

I was born in Croydon and now live in Leeds/Bradford, but I work all over the UK.

What job do you do?

I'm a composer, musical director and pianist (freelance). I also hold the following part-time posts:

I've been doing this ever since I can remember. The jobs may have changed, but the all-round involvement hasn’t.

What previous jobs have you done?

I wrote music, directed, played and sang in numerous school and university productions. Later, I was musical director for dance groups.

I've worked as a musical director at Chipping Norton Theatre, Chelmsford Civic Theatre, Bradford Alhambra, Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield and Yorkshire Women Theatre.

 As a composer, I have worked on commissions for Northern Ballet Theatre.

What qualifications do you have?

A degree in music and an AMusM (Masters of Musical Arts degree) in music composition.

What do you do at work?

"There’s always plenty to do – no risk of ever getting bored – and plenty of variety."

As an example, today I've been working on programming for next season, in particular composing a new staged choral venture.

One of the pieces was staged with lighting effects and an ever-changing sequence of slide backdrops – a choral concert but with movement, colour and drama.

In between times today I have:

  • written programme notes for some forthcoming recitals
  • checked entry details and requirements for the Choir Olympics for a youth choir I am taking there
  • edited music and script for a dramatic presentation
  • phoned a couple of artists to check availabilities and possible programmes for an upcoming festival

What’s the best thing about your job?

There’s always plenty to do – no risk of ever getting bored – and plenty of variety.

It's great to be able to create a work in which music, spectacle, words, scenery, drama and emotion all come together in a combination that is greater than the sum of its parts.

It happens occasionally, when everyone is working together with the same vision and sense of purpose.

How do I get into music?

Keep your options open. Don’t make final decisions until you have to, by which time they will become clear. You may often find yourself taking a different and more exciting path than the one you planned.

On the other hand, look for opportunities and seize them when they’re there – they won’t come round a second time.


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