Fanfare Contributor Bio
I grew up in Dorset on the South Coast of England, where my early passion for classical music was nurtured by weekly trips to hear the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Simon Rattle was also partly responsible; his televised performance of Mahler's Second at the opening of Symphony Hall in Birmingham began a Mahler obsession that dominated the remainder of my teenage years.
Studying music at Cardiff University helped broaden my listening diet, particularly in the direction of the postwar avant-garde. I graduated with a dissertation on Ligeti's micropolyphony, before returning to Cardiff to undertake master's research on his piano etudes.
Throughout my undergraduate years, I aspired to be a professional trombone player and/or composer, but neither activity interested me quite as much as listening to and writing about music. Musicology beckoned, and I transferred to Goldsmiths College, University of London, where I took a Ph.D. on the symphonies of Alfred Schnittke.
I continue to be active in Schnittke scholarship. As a visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths, I am involved in a number of projects to promote Schnittke's music. I am a member of the editorial team for the Alfred Schnittke Collected Works Edition, currently being published by Kompozitor in St. Petersburg. I am also co-editing a volume of articles about Schnittke's work.
Musical instruments are another research interest. From 2007 to 2011, I was a curator of musical instruments at the Horniman Museum in London. There I undertook a number of research projects, focussing on the history of the G bass trombone in the U.K. I also organized concerts and conferences, gave gallery talks, conserved, commentated, acquired, catalogued, and did all the other tasks traditionally delegated to the museum curator.
My freelance writing grew out of the museum position, initially though articles on the instruments for U.K. music magazines. I have since diversified and now write on classical music, in the broadest sense, for a range of publications and websites. My work has appeared in Gramophone, Classical Music, Classic FM Magazine, Limelight (Australia) and the BBC Music Magazine. I also blog and tweet, mostly about classical music in London and on the web. For the latest, follow me at @saquabote.