Royal College of Music and Synaesthesia.

I always heard music as colour but never thought much about it. I thought it was normal. I played the piano and in my childhood I formed a band and taught myself the piano. My father was a Clergyman and throughout my early years I went to church with him observing the rituals, gestures and symbolism of colours. Music and colour were always a refuge to me. Therefore, I think partly due to this upbringing, and the strong connection the music has to colour that in my twenties I found a great connection and solace with the music of 20th Century composer Olivier Messiaen whose music is unusually and uniquely composed and notated directly in terms of colour and which aspires and seeks connection to the beyond. I became immersed in and passionate about it, and It led to collaborations with musicians such as Gillian Weir and Peter Hill and other experts in Messiaen’s music and this exploration of colour and sound led to many performances nationally and internationally.

In 2001 and 2006 I was commissioned by the South Bank to stage performances which took place at the Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall then other performances at Royal Academy of Music and were collaborations between myself and various musicians there. The relationships I established with some of the musicians here led to other work and further collaborations with other composers work such as John Tavener, George Crumb, John McCabe, Anthony Plogg, Edward Cowie, and Roger Redgate. (Listen to BBC Private Passions Interview on Bio Page for in depth details on this work.)

The events involved an exhibition of paintings at the York Gate Collection and performances and involvement in the touring Eye Music Exhibition. Over a period of five or more years I worked almost exclusively with the music of Olivier Messiaen. ¬†The performance pictured involved an interpretation in colour and gesture to what I could hear being played. The pieces I chose were mostly movements from “Quartet from the End of Time”. A piece which moves slowly in different movements and is a contemplation of time and the struggle against it.

The events culminated with commissioned performances including painting live in the Pulpit of ¬†Westminster Cathedral on Messiaen’s Centenary with a 100 strong Orchestra and a resulting exhibition .



Royal Academy of Music

Royal Academy of Music. Medium: Photographic stills of Performance
  • Collaborators

    Christopher Redgate- Oboe

    Neil Heyde-Cello

    Peter Skaeverd Sheppard-Violin

    Aaron Schoor-Piano

    Sisi Burn-Photographer

  • Musical Works

    Quartet for the End of Time by Olivier Messiaen.