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George Holloway PhD Music

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Hi, I'm George Holloway and I studied PhD Music within Humanities at the University of Southampton.

The best part of the degree is the supervisions, as well as the interaction and idea-sharing with other students and staff.

I first became interested in composition through playing in Saturday morning youth orchestras in my early teens; then there was an excellent ensemble, the Brunel Ensemble, that played concerts in Bristol during my late teens. At the same time, like many teenage boys, I wanted to be a rock musician, and taught myself the guitar and began writing songs.

I discovered the music of English composer Michael Finnissy through Judy Martin, director of chapel music at Worcester College, Oxford, when I was an undergraduate there. She had recorded a CD of his motets. From then on I bought as much of his music as I could find, and even learnt a few of his piano pieces. It was a simple decision to come to study at Southampton when I learnt that he taught here.

A PhD in musical composition is the best way for a composer of notated music to develop and hone his style and technique.

The best part of the degree is the supervisions, as well as the interaction and idea-sharing with other students and staff.

Studying at postgraduate level was harder than I imagined it would be. I came to Southampton with unbounded self-assurance. I had to mature quickly when I began the masters, as well as to catch up on some skills I was lacking (after not having done a music degree). It was surprisingly hard - it’s been a process of learning how hard musical composition is. The PhD is a giant of a degree, and one learns a lot about one’s self, and specifically about how one deals with huge tasks.

I would like to do more study in Mandarin Chinese, following my trip to Taiwan in 2010; I do want to get a job maybe teaching in a university, researching, organising and conducting concerts.

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