Saturday, 3 January 2015

New Year Reflections - Bob Gilmore

It’s 2015 and with a new year come all the usual notions of new beginnings and anticipation of the future. But it is just as important for us to use this time as one for reflection – reflection on how we have gotten to this moment and to remember those who helped us get here but are no longer with us. Yesterday, I was deeply sadden to hear of the passing of one of my undergrad university lecturers Bob Gilmore - a charismatic educator, musician and musicologist and someone who unknowingly helped me get to where I am today.
My memories of Bob Gilmore. 
Sometimes you encounter people in life that, unbeknown to them, leave such a great impression on you that they in fact help to shape your life. One such person for me was the late Bob Gilmore.

I first encountered Bob during my undergraduate degree at Brunel University. Bob was the first musicologist that I ever met – in my ignorance (and I guess youth) I didn’t even know that the discipline of musicology existed before meeting him. I was fascinated by this whole new world of music, outside of performance and composition but still very much involving them both and so much more, a world where my musical passions and abilities could be realised and really belonged. This introduction eventually led to me pursuing my postgraduate degree in musicology the year after graduating from Brunel.

Over the three years of my undergraduate degree, I was privileged enough to have him as a lecturer for modules such as music since 1900 - a module that opened up a whole new repertoire to me - and music journalism; the skills of which ultimately led me to the creation of this blog. Bob was an inspiring performer and those of us lucky enough to have performed in an ensemble with him are better musicians for having done so. Although I stopped studying performance after my second year, my final year was full of Bob-instigated performing opportunities: from university performances of Philip Glass’s Music in Similar Motion to the once in a lifetime gig at Dalston’s CafĂ© Oto of Philip Niblock’s work. In all honesty, I’m not sure that I was always a positive addition to Bob student ensembles (my flute playing was and still is a lot to be desired!) but Bob was always inclusive, regardless of ability, and open to anyone who had the right passion and spirit of the music.

Most memorably, Bob facilitated my first ever trip to Amsterdam through the KlankKleur Festival 2011, a special experience that I know will forever come to the mind of myself and my peers when we think of Bob. The performance experience of him conducting us our bullroarer debut, the work experience gained from assisting at the festival and the invaluable life experience gained at Bob’s 50th birthday party have all played their part in our musical journeys.

My final encounter with Bob was on my graduation day in 2011 and seeing him as Dr Bob Gilmore dressed in his own university robe, his signature hair protruding from his mortarboard, only cemented him as a figure of aspiration for me – what I could hope to achieve with enough hard work, passion and talent. The impressive body of literature that he has left behind is just one of the many ways he will continue to educate and inspire future generations; his impact on those who he inspired being another.

I guess that this is the reason Bob’s passing is so poignant for me. It is because, despite not seeing him since graduation, I can clearly see his influences and the outcomes of our interactions in so many aspects of my musical and professional life now. My attitudes towards writing, performing, music appreciation, musicology even travel can all be traced to things I learned from his amazing character during the most influential period of my life so far. As I begin my own journey into education, I can only hope to touch people in the way that Bob has so many. So thank you Bob, you may not have known it, but you really did help to shape my musical pathway and I’m sure those of many others.

Happy New Year Bob, may your influence live on.