Make Music Work: Toby Young, composer Jump to main content

Make Music Work: Toby Young, composer

I am a composer. Or Songwriter. And I also teach at a university. So I guess I’m a composer who lectures, or a songwriter with a double life. Oh, and I am an artistic director.

Complicated, isn’t it? In a job market where people are expected to constantly subscribe to a singular, uniform career path, having a portfolio career seems an increasingly difficult prospect. For those who are lucky enough to be celebrated concurrently for the many things they do, how does it affect their creativity? Do they ever feel stifled by the inevitable categorisation of ideas by funding bodies and marketing offices? So many of us have valuable secondary strands to our metaphorical bows, yet then we are faced with the all-important funding applications or website developments where we have to pigeonhole ourselves to ‘tick the right box’. How – if at all – can us musicians fit our exciting, creative and new ideas into the ‘right box’ to help bring them out of imagination and into reality?

In my career, I have tried to balance numerous career threads, as a classically trained composer writing for orchestras (London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, Fretwork, Britten Sinfonia, CHROMA) and choirs (King's College Cambridge, New College Oxford, Westminster Abbey, BBC Singers), as a pop music songwriter and producer writing for bands (Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, Ellie Goulding) and other urban acts (techno duo Chase & Status and rapper Plan B), as a lecturer in music and philosophy (Oxford and Westminster Universities), and as artistic director, fitting in other projects and collaborations. I’m naturally hugely interested in creativity and new ideas, and how to fit these into interesting and diverse careers to bring them to life. I can’t wait to tackle these and other questions at Make Music Work on 31 March and to compare notes with some of the other exciting musicians.

Follow Toby Young on Twitter @dirtylinoleum or visit his website:

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