Each week, the OUMS newsletter features an interview with someone who positively contributes to the Oxford music scene. This week, we sat down with conductor-, hornist- and composer- extraordinaire Alice Knight to ask about her exciting plans for the upcoming term!
Alice Knight (she/her)
Conductor, horn player, and composer
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a second year studying Music at St Anne’s College, and have been lucky enough to be involved with almost all of the wonderful ensembles in OUMS! I’ve spent the past year conducting Oxford University Wind Orchestra (OUWO), Oxford University Brass Band (OUBB) and Oxford University Sinfonietta (OUSinf), and am now thrilled to be taking on the same role with Oxford University Philharmonia (OUPhil). In Michaelmas and Hilary of my first year I was assistant conductor with OUWO - I found out I’d got the job on my very first evening in Oxford (after a Zoom interview!), so OUMS really is a completely central part of my life here! I’m also a horn player with OUO, and am very excited about this term’s programme (La Mer and Rach 2 are two of my favourite pieces of all time!). During my time in Oxford, I’ve also played with Ensemble ISIS, Orchestra VOX, Oxford Young Soloists, and St Anne’s Camerata, as well as being lucky enough to play lots of chamber music, from wind octets to duos and solo recitals. I also play bass guitar in a band called Who Killed Tommy, which has been a completely unexpected but brilliant adventure! Before Oxford, I studied at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and was joint principal horn of the National Youth Orchestra, and I’m now studying horn with Richard Watkins as part of the Ox-RAM scholarship scheme, and conducting with Dr John Traill. These days, I work with the National Youth Orchestra as part of their Creative Music Team, and have just accepted a place as part of the London Sinfonietta Academy, so I’m kept busy in the vacations too!
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I’m completely engrossed in two big conducting projects that I’ve got coming up this term: Gustav Holst’s The Planets and Florence Price’s The Oak with OUPhil (31st May in the Sheldonian if you’re interested!), and the word premiere of Ethel Smyth’s cantata, The Song of Love, as part of the Alternative Canon Project (8th May in Christ Church Cathedral!). Both of them are really huge and exciting undertakings - the scope of my OUPhil programme is such an amazing opportunity (thanks to the lovely committee for letting me do it!), and a world premiere is a real responsibility, especially a posthumous one by such an eminent and fascinating composer as Ethel Smyth. I’ve been reading as much about her as I can, and it’s both illuminating and slightly terrifying - I keep wondering what she’d have said to me if she’d been around to hear the rehearsals or performance! There’s lots more to do to get myself prepared for both projects, but for now I’m really loving getting to grips with all three composers - they’re such vivid figures with so much to say, and it’s such a privilege to get to know them as well as I can (and much nicer than revising for collections!).
What has your favourite musical experience been at Oxford so far?
I know it’s cheating, but it’s going to have to be a three way tie: winning UniBrass with OUBB in Hilary 2023; conducting OUWO’s 50th Anniversary concert in the Sheldonian; and my first concert as conductor with OUSinf in Trinity 2022 (especially the glorious coda at the end of Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony!).
Where can you see yourself going in the future?
I can’t quite believe I’m far enough through my degree to be thinking about what comes next - but I’m currently planning to apply for further study at conservatoire, either in horn playing or conducting, and either in London or abroad. I’d love to conduct and play professionally, so this feels like the natural next step. In the nearer future, I’m excited to make the most of my final year in Oxford; I’ve got some (very) big plans for OUPhil in Michaelmas term - but that’s a secret for now!
And finally, can you give us a music recommendation?
Echo Beach - Martha and the Muffins
For more information on Alice's upcoming projects, visit the links below:
To find out more about the OUMS newsletter and our interviews, email Christopher at email@example.com.