Two Pairs of Hands

Two pairs of hands very close to me.

One at my side bursting with ink
Scriptures flowering – bleeding – under the skin.
Half-human, for sure
Out to observe, absorb. Transform the lines
Of all them masters over whom she will be virtuous mistress.

Two – I hold onto them
(but in my eyes)
As metals do to magnets
As waves do to gravity
That leads the dance
bending the bend
stretching the stretch
pulling the push of invisible currents.

These silky feather-brushes lather paint onto the air
Bleeding colours from here – there – harp – snare –
Add water to the strings,
Chuck oil on the bass-
line to thicken the paste,
Burn the wood, the wind, the brass,
Then tame the flames…

These hands.

I held them all –
within me.

Pair No. 1


The hands belong to my friend and artist, Iona Roberts.
See her amazing work here.

Pair No. 2

François Xavier-Roth, Les Siècles
Royal Festival Hall 02.11.16


Guangzhou to Ganzhou

By a 6-hour sleeper train, passing through a China I have never seen before.


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On China, family and writing

Location: Hainan
Time: 02:30AM – 05:00AM

How refreshing it is to fly to a country that feels like home yet bewilders you at the same time. I am swallowed up in the population, the ginormous bureaucracy, unknown to billions of people and barred from social media. It is weirdly pleasant, especially after such a publicised and popularised fortnight in another place, to escape into this culture. It means that I don’t get carried away wallowing in the memories of this ‘success’ and that ‘achievement’, swimming in the blue aftermath of adrenaline-filled days, all mopey that it has come to an end. The last thing I want to do is self-indulge and forget about where I am and who I am with.

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The Forgotten Youth – a response to David Nice (The Arts Desk)

Location: On the 9-hour plane from Helsinki to Guangzhou

My happiness of the weekend has diminished a little after reading someone’s written words. The good memories on- and off-stage, regardless of their emotive strength and permanence, are now partially smudged out by one particular 5-star review about our BBC Prom – quite ironic I know. Sadly, some of the review was not written in the right way, and I thus feel guilty for enjoying our success and accepting the praise. It also brought my attention to an even bigger issue – NYOS and Scotland’s reputation that has been largely ignored in the classical music scene.

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These thoughts have been brewing in my mind ever since I read it, muffling the glorious music I saw performed this weekend. Believe me it really takes a lot to beat Petrushka, Scythian Suite and The Rite of Spring. So, I am going to let it out.

The disappointing words were from David Nice, writing on behalf of The Arts Desk a joint review on both the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain Prom and the NYOS Prom. Many nice things were said for both orchestras. He lauded them both. He rightly recognised the potential, standard and professionalism of NYOS that have been ignored for far too long by the BBC Proms and everyone else. NYOGB was given a much-deserved 4-stars. However, a few sections render it a distasteful comparative analysis of two fantastic youth orchestras, which bothers me quite a lot. I speak out against it as a young Scottish musician, as an alumnus, friend and former intern of NYOGB, as a friend to some of its current musicians, and finally as Leader of NYOS Symphony Orchestra. Continue reading

March was quite grey


I was in a place where the wind cocooned my head, limbs and body like a giant spinning, unforgiving frenzy. Air was charging into my ears and whipping the fabric of the raincoat against my cheeks. It heaved and pushed the water, forward and upward, roaring out platoons of white waves that swamped the length of the shore. It even pierced the thin layer of water on the sand, impregnating it with galaxies and galaxies of bubbles. They obeyed the wind and performed their wild orbital dance, alone, in clusters, slaves to air and gravity.

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NYO, yo, yo! Getting down and groovy into concert mode.

It’s currently day 10 on the NYO Spring Residency. We have one more day of rehearsing before we are off to Liverpool for our first concert, wahey.

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Chamber Music on NYO’s Inspire Day

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I have a boring life.

Today one of my good friends commented on my blog. He said that the writing quality was good but the content was dull.

The title of this post reverberates negativity, but I am not offended at all. In fact, I’m intrigued. His carefree surface attitude and radical philosophical ideas amuse and delight everyone. Being ridiculously intelligent also dissuades people from criticising or disliking his personality. He is free to like what appeals and criticise pointless comment and remains my friend regardless.

The point of creating one wasn’t to please but to get better at writing. I’m guilty of not keeping to my word, as most of my posts now feature just a stream of images. Occasionally I have the time and urge to write. My skills are improving, naturally, by reading academics everyday, and this afternoon I attended THE most perfect class in the history of my entire education – primary, secondary and higher: A ‘how to write well’ class!

To summarise, it was two and half hours of analysing hilarious examples of meaningless, pretentious and complicated texts and comparing them to elegant, easy academic prose. I left the room like a newborn prodigy destined to grow into the next Jane Austen/Sylvia Plath/Lord Denning. The tricks I learnt will make studying SO much easier, yuss!

Perhaps I’m better suited to writing stories about people other than myself. After all, a blog entirely about oneself is not very interesting. So, tomorrow the focus shifts back onto Scarlatti. He’s started wearing pocket squares, which he explained were silk scarves fabricated for the purposes of wearing them in suit pockets.


The Joys of Studying Law

Hello blog. As you’d expect I have a lot to say after such a lengthy period of silence. Be prepared to read many fanciful, preposterous words.

A lot of students complain about a law degree being dull, dry and soul-destroying. Pages, journals, cases, textbooks, lecture notes, current affairs, dictionary – oh my lord it’s a vicious cycle, get me outta here. From time to time I pass a bunch of glum faced people in the corridor looking terrified. And I just want to stand on a chair in the middle of the landing and sing, as tunefully as possible,

There is more to life than plain reading, my dear legal companions!

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Monday October 7th – a funny, emotional wreck

The highs and lows from the previous week. Another one of those random, unstructured, blog posts, for which there isn’t a particular purpose other than to exercise creative writing skills and escape from present life.


    • Hello Jacob!

We ate a pint of sausage rolls and snooped around a second hand book sale by Southbank.

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  • Good news!

I’ve been chosen to lead the King’s College London Symphony Orchestra this year, argh! The phone call from the conductor sure brightened my dull evening.

This term we are playing Tchaikovsky Symphony No 5, and next term it’s Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, in which there is quite a big violin solo. Yikes.


  • Listening to music made me cry

I’m not usually one to weep along to music. Even in extremely moving live performances it’s rare for me to be pushed beyond the emotional threshold. After memorable concerts I am likely to be profoundly inspired by the artists, or sunk into a state of oblivion. And hearing pieces I’ve performed myself, especially in an orchestra with friends, always causes my skin to feel a little more sensitive, as the goosebumps shiver to the surface and come in contact with the fibres of my sleeves. Somehow the voice and music of a woman called Carole King coaxed out all the negative feelings in my brain.

She made me cry, and smile, a lot.

Then of course I saw that BBC had finally uploaded a video of NYO performing Vaughan-Williams Towards the Unknown Region, and burst into tears again.

Hilarious, emotional wreck.

  • This week I’ve been tackling my first law essay, which has turned out to be an absolute failure.

My work shouldn’t even be classed as discursive writing. It falls under a category unknown in any academic field called Read Everything And Type It Out. The essay is completely hopeless; a ten year old could have constructed a more convincing and eloquent piece. I have attempted to create a structure with subheadings, but the bold typeface just looks like a mere effort to cover up and refine my pathetic attempt at legal lingo. I read and read and read as much the brain could cope to find supporting and opposing arguments. Afterwards however I was left with what seemed like two piles of overcooked, bland, lifeless noodles.

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I decided after many hours of sitting and staring blankly at the laptop screen that any more time and effort spent on this essay would not benefit me or my writing whatsoever. If I didn’t have a clue what to do, then so be it. I am going to submit this ‘essay’ – I’d rather call it a piece of used toilet roll – to my tutor, listen to her unhelpful advice and get on with life. It will probably fail, but at least I will understand how to improve. After all, accepting failure makes you more resilient and persistent. I’m hoping to gain some grit.

To be frank, a few of the lecturers frustrate me. They have been very harsh to throw us an essay when the majority, like me, are still struggling to settle into university life…

My flatmate and I forged through the night with our assignment. She boiled broccoli to eat as a midnight snack. Last night I boiled peas and sweetcorn. We should be featured in documentaries about student life in London.

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It’s time to face another week.


London life – Glitter and jazz and dancing

Living in London is a popular topic among students who have received an offer from one of its universities. This is mainly because life here differs from anywhere else in the world, let alone the country, and that moving here brings you into a global hub which doesn’t suit every student. If you’re not aware of the pros and cons, they are pretty straightforward:


  • One of the greatest cities in the world
  • Endless opportunities
  • Forefront of style, innovation, technology, education


  • Spending money money money every day
  • Noisy and dangerous
  • Stressful and tiring

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