“Be passionate and always have an open mind” – Q&A with Joshua Gearing

We’re absolutely delighted to be collaborating with BBC Young Musician of the Year’s Joshua Gearing for our upcoming concert, “Celestial Fire”. He’ll be playing the synth part in our performance of Patrick Gowers’ “Viri Galilaei”.

We couldn’t resist the chance to ask Joshua a few questions. Here, he talks us through his amazing career so far, being a Young Musician of the Year, and what he’s looking forward to next.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Joshua, and I’m 18 years old, currently living in the town of Hatfield, in Hertfordshire. I have just finished my time in Sixth Form at The Purcell School for Young Musicians, and have started to build on my career as a musician. I am predominantly a percussionist, but also have trained as a pianist and am working on my general keyboard skills: piano, organ, and other orchestral keyboard instruments! I also am a keen composer, and working on my skills as a conductor. These are some of my aspirations!

As of now, I am Director of Music at All Saints Church Harrow Weald, where I have the opportunity to work alongside the choir and our vicar for our services, choir practices, and other upcoming religious events. This also gives me the chance to keep my keyboard skills going, as they are necessary when accompanying hymns every Sunday morning! I also work with Amersham Band, a championship-level amateur brass band, where I attend on Monday evenings as a percussionist.

How did your journey into music begin?

I grew up in a musical family, and my parents worked with more popular music. I used to walk around the house listening to that kind of music on a very old pair or earphones and an iPod! At the age of 3, I began to take interest in the piano, and began lessons when I was 5. Shortly after attending a concert when I was still young, I would soon begin percussion lessons, aged 7. I also got into composition around this time, and aged 8, after completing my grade 5 music theory (barely passing…) my grandfather gifted me a copy of Sibelius 7 First, to try out composing. Ever since, all these things have continued. I’m always intrigued to figure out new and wonderful sounds, taking inspiration from composers I listen to, and finding similarities between the piano, tuned and untuned percussion instruments – and even the organ!

Do you have any recent career highlights?

I have had so many highlights, in terms of performances orchestrally and soloistically, but there are just too many to name! I think the main highlights for me as a learning musician were my times that I got to perform with an ensemble/orchestra. I’ve been a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and we had a wide range of exciting repertoire to perform then. My time at The Purcell School was filled with amazing opportunities to work with my percussion peers, and to perform with our school orchestra and other ensembles. I have especially fond memories of performing with my local youth orchestras. And I also have a fond memory (on two occasions) of performing in the Hertfordshire Schools’ Gala, with Rufus Frowde as our artistic director! These were all memories that I will never forget.

BBC Young Musician of the Year was one of the major highlights in my performing career, and was my first time performing in a competition as a soloist. The opportunity to have it filmed and broadcasted live on television was an extremely unique experience, but I will certainly always remember the good connections I made with the other musicians. Everyone got on so well, and the percussionists all banded together as one joint force, supporting each other and taking interest in all our performances – much like a proud family!

Do you have any advice for current or aspiring musicians?

The best advice I can give, is to be passionate and always have an open mind. Dedication is something that we all have to work at as players, but if you truly love what you do, then your work as a musician will only flourish. People will see you as someone who loves what they do, and wants to share their experiences and passions with the world! Ask questions, take advice from your tutors and your peers, and also have an open mind to yourself. Actually ask yourself what it is you wanted to gain from being a musician, and make sure that you go out into the world of music with a positive mindset about the things you love.

What are you looking forward to about working with Vivamus for “Celestial Fire”?

My main highlight about working with Vivamus is getting to experience a wide range of choral music, some of which I will most likely come across for the first time ever! I’m particularly excited for Patrick Gowers’ “Viri Galilei”, as this is a piece I have never come across. I’m excited to see how the balance between the choir and the two keyboard parts will work out, but also to see how the choir works as a whole. I have heard and seen very good things, so I have a very positive feeling about this concert, “Celestial Fire”!

Book your tickets to see Joshua perform in Vivamus’ “Celestial Fire” on Friday 13th October, 7:30pm, at St Stephen’s Church in Westminster.