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The gift of music


by Roger Linn


Mike Wood is one of those fortunate people whose work is also their passion. A gifted musician, he has spent his entire adult life immersed in teaching, performing, conducting and, he will tell you, continuously learning about music.


M


ichael Stefan Wood LLCM LTCL, to give him his full professional title, has that uncanny ability to enthuse others with his passion


and encourage them to do more and go further than they ever thought they could. He is currently Head of Music and Performing Arts at Oakmeeds Community College in Burgess Hill, a position he has held since 1986. He first came to the school as a music teacher in 1975 and in the 37 years since then has introduced literally thousands of young people to all kinds of music. This year he


celebrates his 30th anniversary as conductor of the Burgess Hill Symphony Orchestra and his 25th as Musical Director of the Burgess Hill Choral Society. The fact that the reputation of both those organisations continues to grow is in no small measure down to Mike’s drive and boundless enthusiasm.


I was lucky enough to interview Mike in his home in Burgess Hill and if I tell you that his Music Room looked like the band restroom of a major orchestra, you’ll get some idea of the range of his talents. I counted two violins, a piano, a recorder, a classical guitar, an electric guitar, a French


horn, a set of crumhorns (medieval pipe instruments), a cello, an Arabic Lute and about a thousand CDs. On the way in, I had passed in the hall a viola da gamba and not one, but two kettle drums. Mike says he keeps most of his instruments at school!


Both my parents were musicians, but the only thing I really learnt to play at school was truant, so I assumed that Mike came from a similarly musical background but had made rather more of it than I did. He laughed quite a lot when I suggested as much. To my great surprise, he told me that there was absolutely no music in his young life as he was growing up and yet he was desperate to play an instrument. “When ➳


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SUSSEX LIVING March 2012


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Photos by James Barry Kyla Photographics, www.kyla.co.uk


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