David taught me as an undergraduate in my final year at King’s and was then responsible for bringing me back to the department 5 years ago for my very first teaching job. He showed remarkable faith in my abilities, given that I had graduated from the BMus just a year earlier; I am incredibly grateful to him for this. Much of my teaching work since has developed out of that initial appointment.
His kind support for me as a musician, composer and teacher didn’t stop there. He continually passed opportunities my way, and was always ready to support me if I needed his help applying for any new opportunity I was keen on. More recently, he wrote the warmest and most generous words about my teaching work in a reference that led to my becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
It was a privilege and honour to have studied and worked with him. His knowledge and insight into the works of the composers of the past was second to none; learning from him was one of the most inspiring events of my life and career.
I sometimes feel (perhaps wrongly – I hope so) that we live in a time of great apathy towards classical music from both outside and within the profession. Even in academia, there seems to be a tendency to ignore the notes on the page and concern ourselves with what, for me at least, seem much more peripheral questions.
In contrast to this, David stood for and believed in something much more profound. He was a great musician as well as a scholar; he really knew the music he studied from the inside out. I continue to be inspired by the depth and genuineness of his love for the repertoire, which, perhaps surprisingly to some, included as much secular and instrumental as it did choral music, even though he was justly revered as a performer of mainly the latter.
Our last correspondence was about the possibility of my composing something for the chapel choir to sing this year. What a privilege it would have been to have collaborated with him in this way.
I will continue to treasure the memories I have of him, both as a demanding yet incredibly generous and supportive tutor, but also for his warmth and humour as a friend and colleague, and shall miss him greatly. I know so many others will too. He inspired and nurtured the talents of a huge wealth of today’s great young musicians through the KCL chapel choir, his external conducting posts and, of course, his teaching at King’s.
Posted on October 31, 2014