Creating

Creativity fascinates me:

how we bring a hidden thought to the surface

how we give it shape

how one person can spark another

how we can be surprised by what emerges

I love to create across different styles. When I improvise at the piano I draw on contemporary classical, jazz, world and pop genres.

My background is as a conductor, classroom teacher, writer and presenter. All these feed into how I understand music, lead workshops and communicate to very different audiences.

My specialism is group creativity, particularly in advanced musicians. This was the subject of my PhD and informs my work at conservatoires such as the Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Royal College of Music.

‘Jonathan delivered an inspiring, energetic and engaging workshop which really encouraged our students to listen and respond to each other musically. Most pleasingly, the impact of this work has continued to permeate their performance practice throughout the year’
-Helen, Course leader, Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Jonathan at a music workshop

Even after thirty years of facilitating group creativity, I still marvel at how quickly and deeply music bonds people and gives us a collective purpose.

I’ve led projects for many orchestras and their ‘Participation’ teams, such as the Czech Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and BBC Orchestras.

In the Bristol Pre-Conservatoire, we put a special emphasis on training creativity and versatility. I see those as essential to complete musicianship. It’s a fun place to teach and learn, based a lot on the kind of musical education I would have loved to have had at that age (11-19yrs).

I also enjoy bringing this experience to my community work, which has become core to my musical life and outlook. My regular projects are with people recovering from addiction and with asylum-seekers.

  • Dovetail Music Workshops
  • Creative music workshops for adult musicians and the Dovetail Orchestra for asylum-seeking musicians
  • Aldeburgh Young Musicians
  • Musicianship tutor and workshop leader
  • Bristol Recovery Orchestra
  • Bristol Recovery Orchestra for musicians recovering from addictions. With Bristol Drug Project and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Bristol Pre-Conservatoire
  • Bristol Pre-Conservatoire for talented young classical and jazz students
  • Gerald Finzi Trust
  • Trustee, Finzi Trust (with focus on supporting new composers) and Changing Tunes charity for music in prisons
  • NCO
  • Creative lead, National Children’s Orchestra
‘Jon has brought energy, creativity, professionalism and sparkle to Bristol Recovery Orchestra…He is one of a kind and we are so grateful to have his expertise and experience with us.’
-Sophie, Creative Communities leader, Bristol Drugs Project

To take part in a one-day or weekend workshop for adult musicians, go to
Dovetail Music Workshops

Speaking

I have studied and practised the craft of connecting with your audience:

how to read the room and pitch accordingly

how to catch people hook, line and sinker

how to illustrate and illuminate your words

how to use your body and voice

I mainly speak about classical music for orchestras and in concert venues across the UK. I like to bring the music alive on the piano and through illustrations.

My focus is on how the music works and on demystifying the creative process.

Whatever I speak about, I do so with bags of enthusiasm. This is a signature trait.

As a talk host for St David’s Hall, Jon always produces insightful, entertaining and well-presented talks. He has a knack for pitching his considerable knowledge to any audience, from families to the most music-savvy crowd. He is an extremely good communicator.’
-Suzanne, Arts Active, St David’s hall Cardiff
Jonathan speaking

My conducting experience and work as a chamber coach means I can bring practical experience to the talks and insight into the mechanics of the score. After a fellowship with the Boston Philharmonic, I have conducted BBC orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic, and the Bristol Ensemble. Currently I run the
St Ambrose Choir, who make a heavenly sound. I coach chamber music locally, for Bristol Pre-Conservatoire and nationally, for the Pro Corda senior course.

Clients include:

Cadogan Hall London

National Concert Hall, Dublin

Usher Hall Edinburgh The Sage Gateshead

Bridgewater Hall Manchester

St David’s and Brangwyn Halls in Wales

Beacon Hall and St George’s Bristol

Anvil Arts Basingstoke

Cambridge Corn Exchange and Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham

BBC Radio 3 work for BBC Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales

‘Braving the Stave’: a fun monthly podcast exploring classical music for Arts Active, St David’s Hall

My YouTube channel

‘Jon is also an adept interviewer of musicians and conductors, and readily communicates his profound knowledge and understanding of the subject matter with great enthusiasm.’
-Mary, Orchestra Tour Manager, IMG Artists
Books about creativity

Writing

Writing has always been an important part of my portfolio.

On the technical end, I’ve written articles on creativity and creative listening, teacher resources for Music Teacher Magazine, and programme notes for orchestras (Royal Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales).

Let creatively loose, I love working with composers and have written libretti for operas and songs. Some See Us (with composer Adrian Sutton) was performed at a Prom, and The Griffin and the Grail, also with Adrian, was narrated by Olivia Coleman in London’s Cadogan Hall with the RPO.

I also enjoy writing playful scripts for family shows, where the narrator collaborates with the orchestra to tell a fun story. My latest script was for The Hallé orchestra and their Christmas show in the Bridgewater Hall.

I’ve dabbled in poetry, won a regional prize for one of my short stories, and am currently working on a book about creativity: part handbook, part confessional.