His passion for music and love of the arts is now the driving force behind his want and need to help aspiring new talent. Robert Emery, an award-winning musician who is famed for his worldwide contribution to music, explains how Covid has impacted the arts.
My calling to support musicians.
Award-winning contribution music and a passion for nurturing talent, I was fortunate to catch up with Robert Emery. I was intrigued by the impact he has on the classical music industry and his story.
He started playing the piano at the age of 7, studied at the Royal College of Music and is a teaching descendant of Liszt, Beethoven and Mozart; he now performs around the world, conducting such orchestras as the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Japanese Philharmonic, British Philharmonic, National Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Basel Symphony, Singapore Lyric, Australian Metropolitan & Perth Philharmonic. And he has worked with diverse talent from Sir Simon Rattle through to Russell Watson, Blur/Damon Albarn and Petula Clark.
As an orchestrator or conductor, Robert has worked heavily in Europe, including the world premiers of Der Besuch Der Alten Dame, Dallebach Kari & Gotthelf. He is also a specialist in fusing rock bands with orchestras, & was the creative force behind The Lovebugs/Basel Symphony Orchestra & Seven/21st Century Orchestra; all in Switzerland. He is the conductor of the worldwide production of ‘Ben Hur’, composed & performed by the Police drummer, Stewart Copeland.
Musical Supervisor, Director or Associate: Tanz der Vampire (Theatre des Westerns, Berlin 2016), Jonathan Antoine ‘Believe’ (national tour 2015), National TV Awards (o2 Arena and live on ITV), Royal Variety Performance (Palladium), Great Festival of Creativity (Shanghai, China), Zorro (Garrick, West End), broadway film A Tale of Two Cities (Theatre Royal, Brighton), Songs of my Life (Garrick, West End), Betwixt (Ambassadors West End), Plague Songs with Damon Albarn (Barbican) and others.
Credentials aside, I wanted to find out more about the man behind the music, his interpretation of how his industry had changed and how he has focused his attention on helping others.
If you try to suppress the arts, then you’re suppressing the deepest dreams and aspirations of a people.– Barack Obama, 25th May 2016
Do you think that you are born talented, or it’s something that you nurture with time?
I think there is an element of both; he paused to consider his response and proceeded to reinforce his message by repeating his answer. I believe that in my case, there was an element of something natural with a piano; it was a perfect fit.
I could personally relate to this as his response has been similar to other talented people whom I have met along my journey. They have often referred to something that finds the person rather than the person trying to find it. Primary school inspired him; personally, a magical era where music teachers were an inspirational source; evident that Robert was reminiscing when he told me that he was encouraged to play at the school assembly and when pushed, excelled quickly. He talks about the duvet of music, a quirky self-invented expression that he referenced to when talking about finding inspiration as the years progressed.
If I could get a snapshot of your industry today, how does it compare to last year?
COVID has negative connotations; I feel that handling the situation at government level could be better without getting too political, compared to other countries. We are the second-largest producer of music next to the states, for the powers that be to tarnish one brush over all sectors is a hard pill to swallow.
As a world we have evolved, the pandemic won’t change my sector in the long term, I can’t see a move online with lasting effect. I had referred to the use of software such as; Zoom, that altered the way musicians perform, turning to technology to find a credible solution to the new now.
How have you personally adapted to change?
He told me that he had bookings until the end of 2021, with hundreds of concerts cancelled. I refused to sit back, so in March, I created a blog realising that musicians couldn’t earn money the same way.
My calling is to support musicians, 33% of musicians have given up, and 30% are thinking of giving up. Asking what the difference was between instruments, Robert’s 4-year-old son was the driving force behind his inspiration. Creating a platform (the most significant resource for musicians, with content from experts) I wanted to provide access to industry experts providing inspiration and helping young musicians, they can generate an income stream from them.
I felt people who place others before themselves in terms of wants and needs are inspiring, but there is a difference to those who take action. Robert’s were honourable, given the current situation. I sensed a genuine calling to help and a concept sold to me as producing a credible alternative for musicians who are seeking solace in mentors.
If you could turn back time, what would you have done if you were choosing an alternative career?
I would have been an actor, up to the age of fourteen I was, but my parents explained to me that I needed to focus on either acting or music, so I had to choose between the two.
Empathetic voice tones demonstrated to me that he had made the right choice; his passion for music was more than evident. That said, I sensed that he missed acting by the way he referred to it with affection.
How do you remain creative during covid?
Creativity, it’s inside you. Drawing from experience and getting inspiration from your memories is a natural process. It was a short answer, but the lack of content spoke a thousand words.
Do you think your efforts online will ever compete with the reality of the situation?
I want to make musicians lives more secure and feel of value; If I can change just one person’s life, I have made a difference.
“Helping the younger generation will prevent this industry from suffering and Get musicians working again”.Robert Emery
The concept of; “Get Musicians Working” is to pay them to write an article about an instrument that young musicians will read, and hopefully give them world-class information that can inspire their music-making. This content is hosted on a new website called; Ted’s List (www.teds-list.com), named after his five-year-old son, Teddy.