Anna Appleby (graduated 2014) Composer
I would recommend St Hilda's to prospective music students because of its unparalleled focus on contemporary music. Out of all of the colleges, I found it to be the best for platforming new compositional talent and performance of contemporary repertoire. While other colleges boast traditional chapels and sacred music, St Hilda's offers more of a blank canvas for student-led concerts and recitals. As well as having its own recording studio and practice rooms, the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building is a versatile performance space. My experience of putting on a devised chamber opera there was unforgettable. The college also has links with St Anne's College and the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, so joint musical events are often organised between these venues. Finally, St Hilda's riverside setting creates a beautiful environment in which to study as a musician.
What I am doing now: I recently finished my two-year MMus in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music. I am currently the Manchester Composer in Residence with Streetwise Opera for their 2016/17 season, Composer in Residence with Quay Voices at the Sage Gateshead, and a Performing Arts Specialist with Artis Education. I hope to continue to discover ways of creatively collaborating with other artists in community settings, including future opera projects and cross-genre work.
Hannah Gomersall (graduated 2010), Barrister
Studying music at Hilda's was a magical opportunity. Spending three years immersing yourself in the subject you love is incomparable to any other period in life. The memories of wandering through Christ Church Meadows to the Music Faculty are probably romanticised (we were always sprinting through the rain). But the reality was better. Late nights attempting (and woefully failing) to scribble Bach fugues on A3 manuscript scores, afternoons of exhausting chamber rehearsals, attending concerts and masterclasses several times a week. Being a pianist at Hilda's meant I was lucky enough to have access - almost every day - to one of the best pianos in Oxford in our JdP Music Building. It was in College that I conducted an orchestra for the first time, became a routine accompanist and organised the annual Arts Festival. I also had a varied university life outside of music - coxing the first men's eight and getting involved in politics.
What I am doing now: I am now a barrister at a specialist family law chambers in London. I practice predominantly in public child protection law and am in court four or five times a week. It could be seen as an unlikely career path, although the fast pace, intellectual challenges and rigours of performance I faced as a music student in fact transfer perfectly. Being grilled in the small group tutorial system several times a week was the best preparation for having to defend my arguments in front of a judge. Unfortunately not all judges are as lenient and progressive as our wonderful tutors at Hilda's! Post-graduation, I spent four years conducting, accompanying and teaching to fund my post-graduate law studies. Music will always play an important part in my life. I'm in the bar choral society, go to concerts all the time and am finally setting up a piano trio with other lawyers.
Charlotte Parr (graduated 2013), Publications Administrator, Wigmore Hall
Reading music at St Hilda’s has proved a great start to my professional career. Not only does the academic course provide a breadth of music from prior to musical notation to hip-hop, it allows the opportunity to specialise in many different areas. This is supported by the college’s excellent tutors, who encourage interests and offer valuable advice as a result of being world leaders in their fields as well as active forces in the music industry. As a violinist I enjoyed unlimited access to the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, a purpose-built concert hall situated in the college’s grounds. In addition to providing a stunning space in which to perform and rehearse, St Hilda’s funded lessons with a violin professor from the Royal Academy of Music. The opportunity to study music history, analysis and performance with the first-rate tutors at St Hilda’s was great preparation for my current role.
What I am doing now: I am Publications Administrator at the Wigmore Hall in London. I commission and collate programme materials for around 480 concerts a year, working closely with the management and marketing departments. I edit programme notes written by academics and experts, including former lecturers and tutors! I am continuing to learn a huge amount as well as using the skills I gained at Oxford, most notably the ability to discern a good written style when reading and rewriting material quickly and accurately. The best part of my job is attending Wigmore concerts – seeing world-class artists perform in such an intimate yet integral setting fuels my passion for music that was so well nurtured by St Hilda’s.