I was born with a semi-rare condition called Oculocutaneous Albinism (type 1), which is perhaps the first thing that you might notice when you meet me – it causes my hair and skin to be white, primarily due to the lack of melanin, and also for my eyes to shake (caused by an associated condition called Nystagmus). Other than these physical factors, many people might not realise other complications that I face on a day-to-day basis; for example, I have very little sense of depth perception. While I try hide any difficulties that I might be facing, they are there.
However, if it were not for my partial-sightedness, it is highly likely that I would not be where I am today. It has been theorised many times that persons with low-vision can interpret sound and, for want of a better word, hear ‘better’; this might be a significant cause for my passion for music in its various forms, and has given me many abilities that I might not have had otherwise.
From the age of three, I have actively been taking part in music in some form. At the age of five, I started learning the piano with Patrician Hepworth, who has perhaps been one of the greatest musical inspirations of my life; the keyboard skills and general musicality that I learned from her have acted as a springboard for music for me ever since.
This was particularly the case when, as per her advice, I joined the choir of Holy Trinity, Southport as a probationer in September of 2007. Since then, I was admitted as a full chorister of the church, and participated in regular weekly services, in addition to our annual cathedral tours, carol concerts and, in 2011, a tour to Portugal to sing Mahler’s fabulous 8th Symphony “of a Thousand”, alongside the prestigious Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Choir, and their conductor, Maestro Vasily Petrenko. This was to be the beginning of a long relationship with the Liverpool Philharmonic.
In 2007, I also began playing the Clarinet, being advised that the Saxophone would have been too large for me to play at that time. It turned out that this was very fortunate, as the Clarinet has become my main performance instrument and a large part of my life since (though I have subsequently also taken up the saxophone).
At St. Mary’s College, the secondary school and sixth-form where I started studying in 2011, I owe a great deal. Not only have they been able to enhance my musical ability through regular performance and rehearsal with many ensembles, but have also helped me to develop into a better, more rounded person. Notably Mr Andrew Byers and Colin Johnston of the Music Department have assisted me greatly, exposing me to numerous musical styles, while also assisting me in successfully gaining places with the Junior Royal Northern College of Music (JRNCM), National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYC), Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (LPYO), and the Rushworth Young Composers.
Since joining the JRNCM in 2014, I have undertaken study in many areas, including Composition, Clarinet, Conducting, Voice, Compositional Analysis, Musicianship, Advanced Theory and Jazz Piano, in addition to partaking in many ensembles, notably Vocal Ensemble, Close Harmony Vocals and Chamber Orchestra. I have had the opportunity to have a series of my compositions performed and recorded in concert, perform a series of extraordinary works, including Orff’s Carmina Burana and Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances, and to improve myself as a person exponentially. The years spent with JRNCM have been some of the best days of my life, and it holds a very special place in my heart.
In July of 2016, I successfully auditioned for a place with the LPYO and Rushworth Young Composers. This, in addition the fact that I had completed my GCSEs earlier that year, made that summer one of the best in my life. In September, I began working with Eve Harrison, who taught me a great deal about what it means to be a professional composer, in addition to improving my technique and style as a composer myself. As part of the scheme, I was commissioned a work by the Liverpool Tate Art Gallery, in association with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company, which was to write a piece based on artwork taken from the gallery. After much deliberation, I elected to base my composition on the famous “Fishermen at Sea” by J. M. W. Turner, which was first performed by members of the Youth Company in February of 2017 in the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room.
LPYO has also played an extremely significant role in my life; other than the aforementioned performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony in 2011, this was to be my first true experience of playing with a truly outstanding orchestra. Our first concert, held in November 2016 included Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony No. 3, Gorecki’s Three Dances and Berlioz’s Les Francs-Juges. It was astounding what sound a group of young musicians could produce, and ever since this concert, I have been hooked on playing with orchestras – the feeling that one has when you contribute to a collective sound of such high quality is incomparable to anything else. Since November of that year, I have had the opportunity to perform such significant works as Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919), Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Elgar’s Cello Concerto, just to name a few. Along with this, the orchestra have also toured the north of England in prestigious venues, notably the Sage, Gateshead and Ripon Cathedral.
I will continue to perform with LPYO over the coming year, featuring Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony, Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story and Mahler’s 1st Symphony.
Along with my activities with Liverpool Philharmonic, I also began singing with the National Youth Training Choir of Great Britain in April of 2017. I was privileged enough to sing the world premiere of Unending Love by Roxanna Panufnik with the National Youth Orchestra for Indian Music (SAMYO) at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall. Since then, I have performed a variety of repertoire, including works by Cecilia McDowall, Eric Whitacre and Bob Chilcott. NYC has proven to be highly-influential in improving my musicality and ability to work effectively in an ensemble – these courses have been some of the best in my life.
Alongside my commitment to various regional and national organisations, I have also been developing and growing my own music production and distribution company, Quinlan Music. I have a firm belief that composers should never lose primary legal and artistic influence over their work, and unfortunately, this is a loss that is typically associated with being ‘signed’ by a publishing company or record label – I thought it was about time that somebody did something about this atrocity which is far too common in the music industry. As such, Quinlan Music was born, and we have since been distributing our composers’ works to many digital distribution services. I have very much enjoyed the experience of running a company, and hope to continue operating it for many years to come.