Birthday Q&A with Howard Skempton

With the delightful Howard Skempton's 75th Birthday concert coming up, we decided to ask him a few very important questions. Ever wanted to know what to buy a composer for their Birthday, or their ideal party? We have the answers for you. 

Q. What is your ideal birthday party?

A. Well having a concert planned for me is pretty good! A new music concert is basically a party, whereas a traditional concert is more like a meal out. With a new music concert, everything is exciting, you meet new people and friends, and you can hear each other properly, a real party has good conversation.

Having a concert so close to home, and in the Royal Pump Rooms is great. I've been in Leamington Spa since the 1980s, it's like a seaside town but without the sea, and I go to concerts at the Pump Rooms Regularly. Leamington Spa is very culturally strong, the dance company Motion House are based there, and there are lots of musical events happening all the time.

It will be interesting to have a large ensemble in the Pump Rooms, 20 years ago BCMG played there, I can remember it! It was specifically good for Rebecca Saunder's pieces where musicians could move around the space.



Q. What's the best Birthday present you've ever received? 

A. I'm difficult to buy for, my mother-in-law used to give me book tokens. I think I would like something that I would love to have, but is too much of a luxury, like an expensive score, because I'd think twice about buying it for myself. Me and my wife had a secret Santa that wasn't so secret, each of us would buy our own present, and I chose a second-hand score of Mozart's Requiem which is a beautiful piece... but that was Christmas actually, not a Birthday. 

I love receiving music, book tokens, or books that I felt I should have but couldn't afford when I was younger, Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide To Music Notation for example. Notation really is a life's work. 

My ideal gifts would definitely be desert island books and scores.


Q. Do you like Birthday cake, and what kind? 

A. I like banana cake, or carrot cake, I'm far less interested in a large cake with icing on. I'm a fruit cake man and would like something small with just one candle. Definitely not 75 candles, that is too many candles. 



Book Tickets to the September Concerts

Howard Skempton's Concert  - Leamington Spa

Howard Skempton's Concert  - Malling