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stood in as rehearsal conductor when Stephen was unavailable. His assessment of his own violin playing when he joined the orchestra was “pretty terrible” and he almost gave up because he found the music too diffi cult, but he says that when he told this to Stephen Evans, the response was: “If you give up, it will be a real shame. If you keep on, you can only get better.” “I’ve remembered that all these years,” said Mike. “and I suppose it’s become a big part of my philosophy of life: Never give up.” Nor has he. You could call it total immersion, but in addition to becoming the conductor of the Burgess Hill Symphony Orchestra in 1982, for a large part of the 1980s Mike was singing alternate weeks with the Burgess Hill Choral Society and the Ditchling Choral Society. Then he successfully auditioned for the world


famous Brighton Festival Chorus (BFC) and performed with them until his appointment as Head of Music at school meant that he could no longer devote the time their intensive programme demanded. He says that the period he spent singing with the BFC was hugely infl uential in his development as a conductor because he had the opportunity of working with and studying maestri like André Previn, Lorin Maazel and Sir Colin Davis. He took over as Musical Director of the Burgess Hill Choral Society in 1987 for one season on a ‘mutual trial’ basis. He appears to have been successful because Mike is still there and has been a mainstay of the choir now for 25 years, leading them through a very wide range of choral works. The repertoire includes sacred and secular music by both classical and contemporary continued on next page





“ He took over as Musical Director of the Burgess Hill Choral Society in 1987 on a trial basis and has been a mainstay of the choir for 25 years.”


SUSSEX LIVING 15March 2012


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


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