Royal College of Music (1973 to 1977 and beyond)

Mark was admitted to the RCM in 1973.  Norman Del Mar was his main conducting teacher.  By chance, Norman’s son Jonathan (a cellist) was also in this class at the same time.  There were regular classes, both at first orchestra rehearsals and Saturday mornings at Norman’s house in High Barnet.  Norman consolidated many thoughts which were already in Mark’s head, and more.  Other conducting teachers included Michael Lancaster and in the Opera School, Richard Austin.  Other professors were Geoffrey Gambold (bassoon), John Burness (double bassoon), Margaret Plummer (piano), John Jenkins (tuba), Justin Connolly (composition), Ruth Gipps (history), Hervey Alan (singing).  The Queen Mother, President of the RCM, visited the College at least once a year for a small concert or entertainment, prize and award giving at which Mark conducted the national anthem on several occasions, followed by tea also attended by many great musicians such as Sir Adrian Boult and Jacqueline du Pré, by then was already confined to a wheelchair, with her family. During his RCM years Mark had endless experience of orchestral and chamber music playing as well as orchestral and opera conducting for which he won the major prizes.  He was awarded his diploma by David Willcox in 1976 but continued his studies into 1977.  He was also taken on as a copyist for Novello and Schott and later also for Henze.

Cambridge University (CUMS etc) were in constant need of a double bassoon player for their concerts and engaged Mark regularly.  This reached a peak when Nadia Boulanger attended a concert of her sister Lili’s works, conducted by James Wood in 1975 – in particular ‘Du Fond de l’Abîme’ which starts with a double bassoon solo which Mark was proud to play in her presence.