How did you start in performance?
I’ve always had a passion for arranging, orchestrating and conducting and I started doing this for my school orchestra at an early age. After receiving my bachelor’s in education (music), I followed my dream of working in theatre, playing in pit bands as a trumpeter, but also pursuing the role of musical director – a job I’m still enjoying after more than 30 years.
What is the best piece of advice you have for students today?
If you are open to change and willing to adapt, you will never stop learning. You’ll grow as a performer and will always be prepared for any opportunity that comes your way.
What would you change about UK training?
In this increasingly testing business, it’s easy to become trapped by the pursuit of success, and confidence is easily knocked. So at MADD I try to instil a belief in my students, allowing them to express themselves freely within their performance.
What is the best part of your job?
Seeing the students develop and helping them achieve their goals.
And your least favourite?
Who are the practitioners you admire the most/who should students look up to?
Throughout my career, I have observed many musical directors and conductors from whom I have honed my skills to suit my style. Students should look up to everyone, respect what they do and take the qualities that are right for them to develop their own performance.
What is the one skill every successful theatre professional should have?
The ability to listen.
What is your favourite musical show?
That’s an easy one: Guys and Dolls. It was the first musical I ever conducted.
Kelvin Towse is head of music at Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama was talking to John Byrne