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News > Alumni News > Chris Parsons (Class of 2009)

Chris Parsons (Class of 2009)

We recently had the pleasure of chatting to Old Boy Chris Parsons, who has been awarded two awards for his work in the Arts...

Chris has recently been awarded two awards for his work in the Arts (specifically community music and management of an Arts Festival), and works as a professional freelance Trumpeter, Conductor and Teacher, has been named the Winner of Making Music UK’s 'Best Music Director' Award 2022 and the Mike Rouse Community Champion Award, part of the Ely Hero Awards.

Receiving these awards for your work in the Arts is a great achievement! What path did you take after leaving BGS to become a professional freelance Trumpeter, Conductor and Teacher?

I left BGS in 2009 and headed to study music at the University of York. I had three great years there before heading to the Royal College of Music to study for a Master’s in Performance (on the trumpet) and particularly specialising on the baroque trumpet. I now lead an eclectic and fun life as a freelance musician performing on the trumpet, conducting orchestras and choirs, running my own baroque group, Eboracum Baroque, Artistic director of the Ely Arts Festival and a bit of trumpet teaching! I'm based in Ely near Cambridge but get back to Bury to see family now and again. Each week is always different which I love! 

Have you always been particularly musical? When did you discover your love of music and playing the trumpet?

I was really lucky to have free lessons on the cornet at Besses Boys Band, but my love of music really came at BGS and Bury Music Service. The wide range of music available at BGS was fantastic and really instilled my love of music (across many different genres) but particularly choral music and ensemble music. I also sang at Bury Parish Church throughout my time at BGS which was another great way to learn. Being able to play the trumpet in so many different ways at BGS was a perfect grounding for going to study music. Highlights included playing in Les Miserables and Handel's Messiah in my final year - definitely a moment that got me into a career heavily based in baroque music! 

Are there any BGS teachers that helped to shape your love of Music and have influenced your career path?

There were many! Helen Grundy was a great inspiration (Brass Ensemble at 8.30am!) We played such a wide range of repertoire, and I can remember her being so supportive in my playing. Derek 'Dezzer' Southcott gained legendary status throughout my time at BGS and Thursday lunchtimes with the Dance Orchestra were always a great laugh. He was an incredible player too and someone I can remember really looking up to. Chris Hyde was fantastic in all his enthusiasm to take us on Concert Band tours, put on musicals and make things happen! David Benger was a font of all knowledge and the amount we learnt at A Level was unbelievable. Rachel Britton and Nick Castell at the Girls' School as well were really key in my musical development and I'm massively grateful to all of them and the whole musical community at BGS at that time for all the amazing opportunities (four members of the 2009 leavers went to study music!) 

What skills do you consider essential for your career path?

As a freelance musician you have to be really driven and strive for high quality. It involves lots of dedicated, focused time practising and a determination to succeed. Also, as a self-employed person you need to be really well organised (I make FAR too many lists!), good at promoting yourself and generally being a really friendly and positive person! As a musician you get to work with lots of different people and sometimes in quite short time frames/stressful situations, so you need to have a calm head and be able to work quickly with people. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a varied career - whether it be conducting 300 children and an orchestra in Ely Cathedral or playing in the BBC Proms live on Radio 3! 

What are your fondest memories of BGS and are there many friends that you keep in touch with?

Lots of musical ones. Tours were such a great laugh and I have many fond memories of those. All the concerts too - particularly the Christmas ones in Bury Parish Church. Musicals in my final two years (Les Mis and Sound of Music - I was Captain Von Trapp in that and absolutely loved it!) Founders' Day and marching up to the church playing the Bugle in the CCF. Captaining the 2nd XI cricket team to an unbeaten season (I don't think we played many games...) It was a fantastic place to be, and I'll always hold BGS close and be grateful for everything the School did for me. Ah there's so many memories! I'm in touch with a few close friends and met up with a couple at the Trackside back in August 2022. 

Any advice that you would give to your younger self starting in the Arts industry?

To take your time - there's plenty of it! I've also found in recent years that whilst it's super to be busy it's also really good to have a bit of time to put the trumpet down and spend time with my young family or watch the football with a beer! Enjoy every moment too - as one project finishes you are often straight into the next one so it's good to try and find a moment to really savour what you are doing!

Finally, what are your plans for the future?

I'm doing lots of work in community music and absolutely love it! I work with children and adults so it's a great mix. As a trumpeter I've got a busy 22/23 season with concerts all over the UK and some in Germany. My ensemble, Eboracum Baroque (www.eboracumbaroque.co.uk) has been played on BBC Radio 3 and we've got lots of exciting projects coming up too. I'm really keen to keep pushing classical music to be more accessible and engaging and bringing high quality music making to as many people as possible, both young and old! 

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