Hi, I am Stephen Watkins

Conducting SRP London BranchI have studied, played and written in many styles of music since my studies at the Guildhall School of Music where in addition to composing and conducting I studied trombone, piano and recorder. Since retiring from my last post as the Director of a music school run for British Forces children in Germany I have had the time to focus on composition in a way which work did not always help.

To give some idea of my interests, these include playing in and conducting in Orchestra, Big Band Jazz, Trad Jazz, String Quartets (on Cello) and being a professional level recorder player, solo and quartet recorder playing. All of these interests are filtered into my work as a composer along with a passionate belief in the importance to the cultural world of the amateur musician. I have a total conviction that in essence the only difference that there need be between amateur and professional worlds is the reason that people are playing!

Although I do have a personal style, currently I am engaged in providing recorder orchestras with the kind of repertoire which musical history has denied them.  These pieces are being played regularly in Germany with my friend Dietrich Schnabel conducting them and are beginning to find a place in the British scene. The recorder orchestra is unique among amateur ensembles in its willingness to accept music of all ranges and styles and not have inherent problems in getting balance of instruments right. This make it a really worthwhile challenge for composers, but it needs as careful study as any other ensemble in order to get the best from it.

The idea behind these works is to allow recorder players the opportunity to experience the excitement of the big nineteenth and early twentieth symphonies with significant works that are written with influence from specific composers. So far the pieces written are the  first symphony which owes its inspiration to Scandinavian composers Sibelius, Nielsen, Grieg, The second, which was played at a workshop last year, is based on Mahler. The third is based on Schubert.  The fourth is based on Brahms, the fifth on the ideas of Tchaikovsky, the sixth on the work of Anton Bruckner, the seventh on Elgar, the eighth on Mendelssohn, the ninth on Dvorak and the tenth is in progress, inspired by Vaughan Williams.

These pieces are not mere pastiche because they are not arrangements and they are definitely written with recorders in mind from their conception. So the concept is to take the language of other composers but imagine how they may have used it if they had been writing for recorder orchestra today.

If you have any comments or enquiries about my work, do please contact me at watkins.stephen@icloud.com.