Music alumni profiles

Kathryn Enticott, BA English Literature and Music, 1986

Kathryn Enticott graduated in 1986 with a degree in English Literature and Music. She is now Managing Director and Senior Vice President of IMG Artists in London.

“My time at Birmingham was fantastic – I took part in many musical theatre projects and made life-long friends. I was even lucky enough to see The Smiths perform at the Guild!

“Both parts of my degree gave me skills that helped me in my career – like time management and organisation - but my real passion is for music. After graduating I sent letters to every music organisation I could find and was lucky to be taken on as an audio typist at Intermusica – I had never learnt how to type and those were the days of telex and fax, but it was a great first job and I ended up gaining huge experience during the year I worked there, including managing a European orchestra tour.

“I then worked for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group for five years. It was a fantastic experience and I was able to build a wealth of contacts that have proved invaluable as my career has gone on. I have been with IMG Artists for twenty years now, starting as an Artist Manager and working my way up to becoming Managing Director of our Artist Management Operations in Europe.”

Kathryn believes student should throw themselves into every opportunity that they get.Much of her time at University of Birmingham was spent taking part in the orchestra, choirs and musical theatre. She has particularly fond memories of an extra-curricular production of Sweeney Todd where she played the murderous Mrs Lovett!

She said “Make the most of your time at University of Birmingham – there are fantastic opportunities all around campus as well as in the city, with the CBSO and theatres galore. Get work experience wherever and whenever you can, build relationships and network and most importantly, enjoy everything that university life throws at you. Those three years in Birmingham really were some of the best years of my life!”

Jonathan Goldstein, BMus Music, 1989

Award-winning composer and Birmingham graduate Jonathan Goldstein has enjoyed a varied and illustrious career since graduation in 1989 with a BMus (Hons). After studying under acclaimed contemporary composer Jonty Harrison, Jonathan joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and has since composed for Sky, BBC and Tesco among many others.

His career has spanned film, television, advertising and live events as well as theatre productions, winning numerous awards along the way as well as a nomination for the coveted Ivor Novello Awards for his score to the HBO / BBC film Primo, starring Anthony Sher. He is now releasing his debut instrumental album and believes that his time in Birmingham’s Music Department has helped him in his career.

He recalls, ‘Throughout my studies I took part in many Music and Drama Department collaborations including Stockhausen’s extraordinary and epic work Momente. It is so important to gain that sort of experience and the new music facilities at Birmingham will only make that better and more pleasurable for future students studying at Birmingham.

"I spent hours in the electro-acoustic music studios and was often the last to leave – true dedication! I love what I do – I have worked on many exciting projects over the years and I’m absolutely delighted to be releasing my first album."

Find out more about Jonathan’s album, which is out now, here

Zoë Cobden-Jewitt, BMus Music, 2000

Zoë Cobden-Jewitt completed a Bachelor in Music degree in 2000. She is currently the head of philanthropy at the Bell Shakespeare Company in Sydney Australia.

She writes: “Studying at Birmingham helped my career mainly in that it is a wonderful ‘name’ – an eminent higher-education institution, recognised the world over – and I feel incredibly proud to be listed as a former alumni with many whose names are household ones, and not just in my industry. I have several favourite memories from my time at the University. One of them was premièring new works as part of the New Music Ensemble and performing in the Great Hall. In addition to this, Birmingham as a city which was then starting to develop into the vibrant metropolis it is today, having access to instrument study at the Conservatoire as well as performances at Symphony Hall and by the CSBO (in those days under Sir Simon Rattle) and other incredible world-class artists.

The best advice I can impart to anyone, particularly on a music course, is that which was given to me and my fellow undergraduates in the music department welcome during Freshers’ week. That advice was that , despite music being our chosen degree, it was unlikely that more that 1 or 2% of us would go on to be practical musicians or to have direct music industry employment. BUT that what we have as musicians, is self-motivation, drive, discipline, tenacity and intelligence and that these will set us apart in the workplace. I think it was Ken Hamilton who told us that! He was not wrong; I feel - even at the relitively young age of 35 – that thanks in part to Birmingham, I have built a career I can be proud, and one that I hope will continue to thrive.

Through a career in Philanthropy (fundraising) within the arts I have met incredible people, seen world-class performances and been privileged to – through the role – support some of the arts’ finest practitioners, both in the UK and now Australia. A career in fundraising is usually not considered by a graduate – I, like the majority of my peers, ‘fell’ into it. However, for a passionate, outgoing person who loves to meet new people and connect with likeminded indivduals, it is an incredible career. It’s of course not without its pressires – particularly in a challenging financial environment – but I believe that if you are fortunate to work for a company in whose work and those you can believe, and with whom you identify, then you are halfway there!”

Tian Hui, BMus Composing and Conducting, 2001

Tian Hui graduated in 2001 with a BMus in Composing and Conducting. Currently he is the Music Director of the Mount Holyoke Symphony Orchestra and Lectures in Music at Mount Holyoke College. In addition to this he conducts the Orchestra and Voices of the East Indies, back at his homeland of Singapore.

“I feel very fortunate that I am able to make a living as a Musician! I think that has got to be the best part of what I am doing. I have just come out of a concert singing a Handel programme as part of the Yale Choral Artists with William Christie conducting, at Carnegie Hall. That was just one week after my own Carnegie Hall debut conducting the Young People's Chorus of New York. Whether it is exploring new music or revisiting old favourites, I get so much joy from working in and with Classical music!

The diversity of experiences and opportunities at Birmingham, both at the University and the city at large was a transformative one for me. I was deeply moved by some of the music I heard as a student, and grateful to have had my eyes and ears open to whole new worlds of possibilities. Much of my subsequent work has been built upon those experiences. I think that with so many opportunities, it is important to take advantage of all that the programme has to offer: experiment, savour and enjoy them all! Having done that, finding one's niche and giving it a lot of focus and attention is the great challenge that often provides one with the foundation on which to build a life of music beyond university.”

Harry White, BMus, Music, 2004

Harry White achieved a double first in Music at the University of Birmingham in 2004. He is now a Music Tutor in a Sixth Form College, as well as being a published academic and a contributing journalist to publications like Classical Music Magazine, The Guardian and Sinfini.

Harry writes, “Three things: skills, self- belief and contacts. All of these things I learned and acquired at Birmingham and have been a constant and practical advantage in attempting to further my career. I believe strongly that I owe much of what I might have achieved so far to my time at Birmingham. Primarily my degree allowed me to develop skills in independence of learning, self- criticism and driving for higher standards. These are of inestimable value in any profession.

My degree also challenged me to think about myself, for myself, and dare to aspire. I studied with some incredibly talented musicians and learning from them was one of the most profound positives of the whole experience. I now have a great many friends in the music industry who studied at Birmingham and the amount of graduates I know who are successful in an incredibly competitive market speaks volumes about the University.

So my top advice to you if you are thinking of/are studying music at the University of Birmingham would be to learn from your peers, always aspire to improve and work hard (very hard). The time as an Undergraduate can shape your future markedly. Probably the best practical advice I got from a tutor was 'So, you want a first? Well, read and get some exercise'.

Harry also benefited personally as well as academically from studying at the University. He recalls “My favourite memory is looking across campus after a rehearsal as a fresher and seeing a pretty young woman strolling by the splendid Barber Institute wearing a blue scarf and a heavy grey coat. Seven years later she was my wife!

Sophie Cleobury, BMus, Music, 2004

Sophie currently works as a music teacher in London and graduated from Birmingham in 2004 with a BMus (Hons) before going on to complete an MPhil in Music here in 2006.

“I originally went into Arts Management, spending three years at the National Opera Studio as the Planning Coordinator. I then spent 9 months at the Royal Opera House as the Artistic Administrator for the OperaGenesis programme, before being promoted to a Producer in ROH.

I was  project managing productions of contemporary opera and dance in the Linbury Studio Theatre, Clore Studio and other venues in the Royal Opera House, as well as at external events as far reaching as Latitude Festival.

After six years working in the Arts, I decided on a career change, and have been teaching Music in a Senior School in South West London for nearly a year now. I am privileged to be able to enthuse young students about Music on a daily basis. I really enjoy being so closely involved in Music-making, and seeing young people take a keen interest in the subject. Being able to impart your own knowledge is tremendously exciting.”

Charles Penn, BMus Music, 2009

Charles graduated in 2009 with a BMus (Hons) and currently works as a Freelance Accompanist and Choral Director.

“The degree studies specifically provided a firm background of knowledge and understanding which I regularly use when approaching any new repertoire. More practically, the wide range of music ensembles organised by the UMS [University Music Society] and department provided me with countless opportunities to work on and perform a huge range of repertoire and this experience comes into play daily in my work. As well as the obvious skill sets which my degree helped me to develop, the contacts I made through work experience links in the department led me directly into several very exciting jobs. Particularly, as a direct result of some work experience shadowing choral directors from the CBSO, I was offered work with their youth chorus department and have had repeated opportunities to perform and work with choral and orchestral musicians of the highest calibre.”

Bekah Cork, BMus Music, 2011

Bekah Cork (BMus Hons, 2011) talks about how her degree helped her to land a job with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).