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Chris Brannick

Meet our new Chair, an interview with Chris Brannick

Can you tell us a little bit about your career to date?

Frankly, my career’s been a bit of a mess. I started as a mathematician, studying at Imperial College in London, during which I took a year out to run a student counselling helpline, Nightline. That was followed by two years at the Royal Academy of Music. Since then I’ve been an orchestral musician, formed a contemporary percussion group, been CEO of the music hub Newham Music, qualified as an Executive Coach, toured the world as an ABRSM music examiner, written and performed several plays and won the Global Motion Picture Award for Best Screenplay 2018.

What made you apply to become Chair of Sound Connections?

I’d come across Sound Connections through my work with Newham Music and I knew it was a fabulous organisation that was following exactly the same sort of agenda that I passionately believe in. Increasing access to the arts can only be a good thing.

I heard that the inspirational Katrina Duncan was stepping down and Sound Connections were looking for a new chair. I didn’t feel ready and didn’t apply at first. But then I remembered that almost everything wonderful in my life has happened when I wasn’t ‘ready’. I knew enough about Impostor Syndrome (the belief that you’re never good enough) through my work as a coach and so I discussed it with friends and family, and knew that this was my chance to make a contribution that would count.

How do you think a Chair can support a small charity like Sound Connections?

I feel that the main job of a Chair is to get the best out of the board. We have an amazing board of trustees with a wealth of experience, and with the added energy and insight of the two young trustees. We have to make sure that the organisation remains true to its aims while also providing perspective.

My dad was a deputy head teacher and on his wall I can remember a sheet that he’d pinned up which ended with the phrase ‘… when you’re up to your arse in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that your task is to drain the swamp’. The people running any organisation can be so busy trying to keep it going that it’s possible to lose sight of the reason you’re there – and that’s what I and the board can do.

What do you enjoy most about your career?

Variety. Variety. Variety. As I write this, I’m sat in a hotel room in Ghana. This afternoon I’ll be having a drum lesson. Next week I’ll be teaching at Guildhall. I’ve put aside time for plotting the next play and I have to revise the last, Death and the Dominatrix, as we’re taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe. Then I have two coaching clients before I help to run a training course for new coaches. The Newham Music Festival of Youth is followed by an ensemblebash concert.

I’ll never be rich, but I’m fulfilled and happy.

Chris Brannick 2

 

 

 

 

 

What most excites you about being Chair of Sound Connections?

I know this sounds like a cliché, but being able to make a change. There is a looming crisis in music, where access to education and facilities is being concentrated in the hands of those who already have access. More and more people at music colleges are coming from the same backgrounds. Something has to change and rather than standing on the sidelines moaning about it, I believe that Sound Connections can get in there and make a difference.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

Oh dear. It’s guilty secret time. I have a passion for 80s disco music. The plays I write for Two Foolish Productions are based around the music of that era, so on my playlist at the moment are Village People, Pet Shop Boys, Soft Cell… Have I just ruined my reputation?

If it helps restore that reputation, I’m also listening to recordings of my gonjé (a one-stringed Ghanaian fiddle) teacher, Meriga Abubakari. Inspirational and humbling.


 

 

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