Robert's sudden death this year 2019 has been the most awful shock to all of us who knew, admired and loved him.
A great musician and a truly wonderful friend.
Robert came to London in 1973 to study at the Royal College of Music where he made many life-long friends. He attained a BMus
(University of London), an MMus in ethno-musicology (SOAS) and (much later) a PHD on the subject of 'The Relationship between Music and Dance'.
He started out as a student living in digs in Queenstown Road Battersea with Catherine (Kitty) Pluygers and they had no less than Stirling Moss as their landlord. After 10 years he moved to a (very nice) flat in New Cross and stayed there before returning home to Axminster in 2014 to help look after his (late) mother.
After leaving Royal College he needed to find work. He worked as a freelance pianist/organist and linked up with the Cockpit Theatre. He then went on to become the Head of Music at the prestigious Laban School of Dance. (Laban was initially next to Goldsmith's College but then linked up with Trinity College of Music and moved to a purpose-built building in Deptford). His role was to teach dancers about music academically and to work with them as a pianist both for their technical training and preparation for (immediate and future) performance roles. Laban recently held a large reception event for him to acknowledge his contribution.
The combination of Robert's gentle character, depth of knowledge and superb musicianship led to a very varied and happy musical life in London. He loved church music and also dance - but was particularly interested in contemporary music - music of the now. He was as comfortable reading written music as he was working without music ie. improvising. His knowledge about complex scores written by composers such as (Karlheinz) Stockhausen and (John) Cage, his interest in championing composers such as Cornelius Cardew and his ability not only to play but to compose music has led to innumerable collaborations with fellow musicians and artists.
In addition, for the last 20 years he has been co-directing London New Wind Festival with Catherine Pluygers. He wrote for, played piano for, and conducted a close group of professional wind players who give three or four concerts each year of brand new music.
Each year the festival asks composers to submit their new compositions and then selects the best pieces for performances. This is a large undertaking as the festival presents around 20 first performances each year.
Robert will be sorely missed by his colleagues and they are hoping to hold a commemoration event for him in London later on in the year.