Award winner honours WWI love story with musical tribute

George, a 15 year old pianist and composer from Suffolk, is gaining recognition for his unique ability to craft musical narratives. Home-educated and now studying music at West Suffolk College, George recently secured a spot at the Junior Guildhall School of Music & Drama. His compositions are inspired by the interplay between personal and collective human stories.  He says:

“As a musician I am intrigued by stories. The way that we tell them, the way that we shape around them personally and collectively. I am moved by the ways that we exist within stories, and indeed their margins, how we reimagine and journey them. I feel that stories are ultimately at essence about our survival. As human beings, we are wired for stories.

George’s artistic journey took a poignant turn when his community sought performances for the local Festival of Remembrance, leading him to the compelling love story of Frederick and Constance. Frederick Hinton Hockey, a church organist and choirmaster at St Mary’s Church in Hadleigh, fell in love with Constance May Whatling, a schoolmistress. Enlisting in the Honourable Artillery Company in 1914, Frederick’s promising military career was cut short when he was wounded in action and lost his life from his injuries in 1915. Following his death, Constance donated a pair of large wooden candle sticks to the church. The pair stand about 5 feet tall and still stand behind the high altar. She never married. Their story became the inspiration for George’s composition and it was recently performed in the very same church.  

“I hope that in this piece we are collectively reminded that yes, this is a story of the challenge of conflict and how that affects individuals and their communities, but at heart, a thread of Frederick and Constance’s story is one of remembrance. A remembrance that illuminates the long lasting light of love as an enduring evocation of our humanity, even in such dark times.” 

George’s musical endeavours are supported by AYM, enabling him to study at the Guildhall School of Music, expanding his musical horizons.  

“I have directly benefitted from AYM support in so many ways! I live in a tiny annexe with my family. We have faced some difficulties in the past few years, and we live small. Opportunities in the arts can feel extremely challenging to access for someone from my background. AYM has played an essential role in supporting me to be able to grow, explore and develop creatively. 

“In my first few weeks at Guildhall, I was encouraged by my composition teacher Dr Susannah Self, to compose a piece for the BBC Singers. I had never written for voice before, so it was a little daunting! I gained so much from the experience, and enjoyed it so much, that I decided to ask the Wattisham Military Wives Choir to collaborate with me for a haunting section of my ‘Frederick and Constance’ composition. It has been exciting to begin to expand and challenge myself this way as a musician. The vibrancy, colour and texture that these opportunities are offering me and my music would genuinely not be possible without AYM’s support in my continued education.” 

In September, he also attended our Awards Day at the London College of Contemporary Music (LCCM):  

“The AYM team were really welcoming, and provided creative workshops, and supported me in actually being able to travel to the venue. I was really inspired by the workshops, teachers and the other students. As a pianist you spend a lot of time on your own, so it was really great to be able to meet and play music with others passionate about creating music. I had never heard of LCCM before, but having attended the AYM day, I came home and talked about the venue with my elder brother Gabriel, who is an electric guitarist and is now hoping to attend LCCM when he finishes his Level 3 Music Diploma! I am very grateful to AYM, for investing in my education and making music a possibility for me.” 

You can listen to George’s composition here.  

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