Welcome to the seventh instalment of Passing The Baton – in which members of the RBC community interview each other.
Each week, a member of RBC staff or a student will interview a colleague to gain some insight into how the Coronavirus crisis has affected their life, both professionally and personally. The interviewer will then “pass the baton” to the interviewee who will go on to present their questions to the next person along, until finally closing the loop with an interview with our first interrogator.
This week, Head of Piano in Chamber Music, Daniel Tong talks to BMus 4 trumpeter Sam Walker.
Daniel Tong (DT)
Where are you during lockdown and how has that affected your time in recent weeks?
Sam Walker (SW)
I’m still based in Birmingham for the moment in my student house share. It’s a house of seven usually, but only two of us have decided to stay on in Birmingham for the lockdown, this means that there is plenty of space which is always nice! I’m pretty close to Edgbaston Reservoir too. I felt much more appreciative of green spaces since the lockdown came into effect and seeing how the Reservoir has changed with the seasons from March to May is something I never would have paid much attention to before.
You are involved with the radio station at RBC - has this been able to continue during lockdown?
Sure, so I worked with Scratch Radio, the student radio station for all of BCU, this academic year. I was a member of the committee and my role was Head of Music PR. I primarily worked on getting in local acts to interview for radio shows and interviewed touring artists at local venues. This year I also started up The RBC Hour which promoted the music of the RBC and ran over six weeks from 9 February to 15 March. It was such a joy to be able to bring the music of the RBC to a wider audience and I had some really good feedback from people regarding the show. All the episodes are still archived at www.scratchradio.co.uk/podcasts/the-rbc-hour. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to continue working with the station this year as the studios are currently inaccessible due to the current campus shutdown, but there’s a great committee in place for next year and I’m sure they’ll go on to do great things!
What items have been most valuable to you during recent weeks?
Ah that’s a tricky one to answer, I can’t think of one or a couple of items that have gained a new significance to me in recent weeks. I’d say that I’m more grateful for things that would have usually formed part of my life without the lockdown. The simple act of a phone call takes on a much greater significance in this time of isolation, and as a musician I’ve found it invaluable to be able to direct my focus towards practice.
Like me, you love chamber music. Have you found a way to stay in touch with this?
One of the things I miss most at the moment is making music with other people, regular rehearsals with my brass quintet, Eastside Brass, were a staple of my experience at the Conservatoire. We’re trying to get some recordings together but battling with technical issues can be an uphill struggle at times. Hopefully, we’ll have something put together soon and we can build on that.
Any benefits to lockdown life?
I’ve found it to be a bit of a double-edged sword to be honest with you. The luxury of being able to have complete control over your own time and therefore schedule is at times brilliant but on the other hand, not having a structure dictated to yourself by external commitments throughout the day can be perilous if I’m in the mood to procrastinate! However, as I mentioned earlier there’s certainly more time in the day to take things a little bit slower and appreciate the nature that surrounds us.
Do you have a hero from outside the world of music who you feel would deal with (or would have dealt with) lockdown life particularly well?
I can’t say that I particularly do, I’ve never really been one for keeping personal heroes. I did learn recently however that Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst in isolation from the plague. After doing a bit of research I found that when Shakespeare was at his most successful the Globe Theatre was shut for over 78 months due to plague outbreaks. That’s more than 60% of time when he was at the height of his career. It’s pretty astonishing to think that his legacy is still so great even after overcoming such a great obstacle.
Next week, in the final episode of this series, we complete the circle when Sam talks to conductor Daniele Rosina.
If you have enjoyed our series Passing the Baton and would like to take part, why not get in touch? We always want to hear from our RBC community, and would love to feature our Jazz and Theatre students. If you’re interested, please contact Pete Holder