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13 November 2014

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You are in: Birmingham > People > Stories > Christmas music magic

Robert and Rupert

Christmas music magic

Robert Emery started playing the piano at the age of seven. Now 'all grown up' he's back in Birmingham conducting the Milkshake Live! My First Carol Concert and inspiring young children to get involved in music.

Robert, now 25, made his acclaimed London debut when he was only thirteen years old, performing at the Purcell Rooms, and in the same year, he performed Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Birmingham Conservatoire Orchestra.

Robert conducting

Robert conducting (Pic Ian Trowbridge)

Robert wasn't the victim of pushy parents, he always had a passion for music: "I've been lucky to have parents who encourage but don't push too hard.

"I was also lucky enough to be the first student of the Birmingham Conservatoire Junior School when it opened in 1991. That's when I met the then head of the school, Heather Slade-Lipkin who did push me hard enough to make this my career; for which I'm eternally grateful."

Royal College calling

Robert won the Regional Finals of the BBC Young Musician and the Year in two successive years and gained the Fraser Wood Mayo and Pinson award, representing the West Midlands in the Leeds Millennium Festival of the Performing Arts.

Robert went on to study conducting at the Royal College of Music, so moved to London and hasn't looked back since – but he doesn't forget his roots.

Robert conducting

Robert conducting (Pic Ian Trowbridge)

"London is such a wonderful place to live; huge opportunities and an array of talent-vital or working in show business! But I still have ties with the West Midlands; my parents live in Walsall and my sister lives in Birmingham so I'm always visiting," explained Robert.

He's now back in Birmingham, conducting Milkshake Live! My First Carol Concert. In the show children's TV characters perform Christmas songs and classical music alongside a thirty piece British Philharmonic Orchestra.

Young and mad!

"I was asked to come on board by a friend of a friend," said Robert. "The producer needed someone young and mad enough to enjoy conducting an audience of 2000 children; and I fit the job description in both parts!

"Since then I've had a huge input in the show which has been great. Choosing songs, carols, orchestral music and script concepts; it's all been a little weird but fun!"

Robert conducting

Robert conducting (Pic Ian Trowbridge)

Robert has had a varied career from playing to conducting. He's also done musicals and pantomime.

"The musicals I particularly enjoy. When I was 10 my mother's friend took me to London for the first time to see Joseph at the London Palladium.

"When I arrived I was blown away by the scale of the show, leant over to my friend, pointed to the conductor and said, "that's what I want to do!" When I moved to London 8 years later, one of the first people I met was that very conductor - we have remained firm friends ever since.

A royal appointment

"I have quite a wide range of music that I love to conduct; from Copland's Appalachian Spring, through to being Assistant Musical Director on Zorro in the West End - where the music is all Gypsy King originals. I adore it all.

"Some of the venues I have played are a little unusual; the QE2, Mansion House in London, Westminster Hall, NIA, just to name a few.

"I've even played for Royalty; the first time this happened was at the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham, for the royal party of Yugoslavia!"

At only 25 Roberts got a long career ahead of him and he's particularly interested in working with children.

Robert with the Milkshake characters

Robert with the Milkshake characters

Inspiring children

"Over the past 10 years I've been researching and exploring tuition methods for young children; culminating in the creation of my own method; the Arts Academy Method.

"I was finding old tuition methods restrictive and a tad boring, so this new way of working teaches all round music to children through an instrument, not just learning the instrument. It's a different philosophy that works really well. I intend to continue this research and trying to inspire the children of today to be the musicians of tomorrow."

If you want to see Robert at work, Milkshake Live! My First Carol Concert is at Symphony Hall on Saturday 13th December at 11am.

last updated: 10/12/2008 at 17:44
created: 10/12/2008

You are in: Birmingham > People > Stories > Christmas music magic

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