Graham Coatman, musical director
Graham Coatman works as a composer, musical director and pianist. He also lectures and is artistic director of a music festival.
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:
- Lecturer in composition and performance, Leeds College of Music
- Artistic director, Hexham Abbey Festival
- National project coordinator, CP4P (Creative Partners for Progression, a joint project with Creative Partnerships and AimHigher)
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.
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.