Composer, Performer and Music Therapist, Adrian Snell, is known for albums such as 'The Passion', 'The Cry, A Requiem for the Lost Child', 'Alpha and Omega', and 'Fierce Love'.

He has performed concerts across the world at venues including The Royal Albert Hall and St Paul's Cathedral, London; Concertgebouw, Amsterdam; Cirque d'Hiver, Paris; Binyenei HaUma and Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; Tonhalle, Zurich; National Concert Hall, Dublin; Concert Hall, Nairobi; and Washington National Cathedral, USA.

Adrian began studying at Leeds Conservatoire (then Leeds College of Music) on the Advanced Study of Jazz and Light Music in 1972, then graduated from the Classical Music programme in 1975. We spoke to Adrian about his fond memories of studying at the conservatoire and his wonderful musical career to date!

Hi Adrian - Can you tell us about your earliest musical experience? 

Subsequently, I started playing and improvising at the piano, probably from around four years old. My parents started me with lessons at age six. By then, the foundation for 'music as the language of my heart' was laid.

What prompted you to study at Leeds Conservatoire?

I was sure I wanted to pursue music, somehow. I would never have been up to the standard of 'concert pianist', I had no desire to teach, and I was growing in my love of jazz, pop, rock, soul and progressive music. 

Then someone showed me info about this course at Leeds College of Music (now Leeds Conservatoire). It was the only course of its kind in the country (apart from a contemporary music course at York Uni), so I applied! 

At the time, I was quite proficient on the Double Bass. In hindsight, it's very clear to me that the 'ease' with which I passed the audition for entry had everything to do with the fact that I played the Double Bass. 

What are your top three career highlights to date?

  1. Recording 'The Passion', an early work of mine, at Olympic Studios in London, featuring the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Harry Rabinowitz, Simon Phillips on Drums, string arrangements by Will Malone, then premiered on BBC radio one, Easter 1980, with an added narration by actress Una Stubbs (in the role of Mary Magdalene).
  2. Performing 'Song of an Exile' at Yad Vashem, (the Jewish memorial to The Holocaust) in Jerusalem Israel, in the 'Valley of Communities', filmed for broadcast on ITV West. This was my interpretation of Jewish poems, particularly children of the Holocaust, referring to the Jewish 'story' of suffering yet as 'the children of God'.
  3. Related to the above, a concert performance in The Royal Albert Hall, where I performed my work 'Alpha and Omega' with a mass choir (500 or so?) and premiered 'Song of an Exile' all on the same evening!

Can you tell us a little bit about your musical style? 

Can you tell us a little more about the performance of your work 'Song of an Exile' at 'The Valley of Communities' at Yad Vashem in Israel?

Sure! It really was incredible. The stage for my concert was built between these massive columns formed from an almost white, 'Jerusalem' stone hewn out of the hills surrounding the city. Inscribed on these columns were the names of every village, town, and city throughout Europe where there had been a Jewish Community. This numbered 5000! Almost all were decimated, with the vast majority of Jewish men, women and children who lived there being murdered in the death camps and ghettos between 1939 and 1945.

Watch Adrian Snell perform 'The Song of an Exhile' at The Valley of Communities:


What is your fondest memory of Leeds Conservatoire? 

Mmmm, difficult one! I think, as far as the college itself is concerned, it's the eight brand new Bosendorfer Grand Piano's that were purchased for students to practice and perform on. I must have spent hundreds of hours playing my heart out on those pianos, refining my style of composing and playing. Occasionally there would be encouraging knocks on the door by teachers and students who were keen to know what, who, they were hearing behind the door?! 

I loved the little cafe up the hill from the college, which I discovered early in my student days. Importantly, they served an 'individual' steak and kidney pudding and an individual 'cream' trifle affair. I literally had this for lunch every day. Talk about comfort food!

What advice would you give to those hoping to study music and/or begin a musical career?

Keep your options open! By which I mean explore all manners of music-making, contexts and professions where your musical skills might be relevant, enjoyable and meaningful. It's harder than ever to 'make a living' from music. In 'my day', you could earn a decent income as a session musician, an orchestral player, a recording artist, a producer, and much else. But today, whilst at a certain level of social media has given us access to a truly 'global' audience, that certainly dones't necessarily translate into significant income. 

As a working musician today, you need to have as much business, development and IT skills as musical ones! You should be open to the idea of 'transitioning' into teaching, music therapy, and other related professions.

What's coming up next for you in terms of work, projects, releases or tours?

The most important project is the forthcoming release of my recorded trilogy: 'Kintsugi, The Art of Precious Scars', which will be released on the 'Serious Music UK' label on 4 March 2022.

Discover more about Adrian on his website.

If you’d like to share your experiences of studying at Leeds Music Centre, City of Leeds College of Music or Leeds College of Music, get in touch with us:

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