Marlburian Mondays-Anthony-Inglis

Anthony Inglis: My Life, so far, in Music

Anthony Inglis (C3 1966-69) gave what he described as the shortened version of his life in Music, illustrated with several video clips as he went along.

He recalled his first attempt at conducting, aged six, at his Pre-Prep School and the decision there and then to become a conductor. It was at Marlborough, on a Music Scholarship, that his eyes were opened to live music-singing in Chapel Choir, playing in the Orchestra and hearing the BBC Training Orchestra under the baton of illustrious OM Norman Del Mar (LI 1933-36).

Trevor Gartside (CR 1954-91) warned him that four O Levels wouldn’t get him into the sixth form and suggested R.I. as a possible safe option for a fifth. But Anthony chose another path, gaining a place at the Royal College of Music at the age of 16 and studying there for the best part of five years. He singled out tackling Ravel’s richly scored Ballet “Daphne and Chloe” as a significant conducting landmark. Soon he was picking up work playing rehearsal piano at Shepperton Studios for Ken Russell’s early films and beginning his career as an M.D. in the pit of the Adelphi Theatre for “Irene.” Then came the stage show for “The Two Ronnies”, “My Fair Lady” and “Oliver,” where he remembered Ron Moody as an outstanding Fagin.

There were engagements at Sadler’s Wells and Birmingham Royal Ballet conducting “Nutcracker” and other Tchaikovsky favourites and fifteen years conducting popular symphonic works in the Albert Hall for “Classical Spectacular”, where reading and playing tricky scores such as “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” wasn’t always easy under distracting strobe lighting.

1986 saw Anthony begin a 25-year association with the musical “Phantom of the Opera”, whose operatic qualities he was keen to praise: the last 25 minutes in particular he reckons are critical for conductor and orchestra in achieving a dramatic conclusion. Like a fine-tuned machine the musical relies on consistency of performance night after night, even allowing for cast changes, and that was something he was dedicated to achieving.
His career went on another voyage in 2004, this time providing music on Cunard ocean liners- Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth for example. Proof of this was provided by footage of Lesley Garratt belting out “Amazing Grace” with multi-faceted accompaniment in front of the Queen and Anthony conducting.

It was at this point that my iPad ran out of juice and I missed the conclusion. I went away with the feeling that I had been witnessing a promotional presentation from a conductor and purveyor of the Popular Classics, but a re-run of the end of the lecture a few days later proved enlightening.

Bringing things up to date Anthony told us of his involvement with the Netfix series “The Crown” and a filmed recording of a song from Phantom sung by Princess Diana as a surprise present to Prince Charles. With two London Orchestras he has been making virtual recordings of classical works during the Lockdown and he bemoaned the plight of professional musicians missing out on so many rehearsal and performing opportunities.

Then followed a question and answer session in which his true warmth and evident modesty became more apparent. One OM remembered him playing his party piece in Chapel-Widor’s Toccata-and another asked him whether Marlborough had proved crucial to his musical development. It clearly had and he recalled with affection the influence of Tony Smith-Masters (CR 1953-69) and Trevor Gartside.

Director of Music Robert Ferry (CR 1938-41) had recognised Anthony’s talent and proved to be inspirational. It was good to be reminded that words of praise and encouragement from a teacher can set a young musician on a path to a successful and fulfilling career in music.

Robin Nelson, Director of Music 1982-2003