My day varies massively, depending on the job I am working on. No two days have ever been the same.
I am artistic director of Theatre in the Quarter which currently takes up nearly all of my time. This month we will be touring railway stations in Cheshire and beyond with a performance to commemorate the anniversary of the First World War. We will also be touring a theatre piece called Silent Night which tells the story of the Cheshire soldier in the lead up to the truce on Christmas Eve 1914 and we are auditioning actors for our magical Chester Christmas show Alice. We also run two youth theatre groups, Jigsaw and Quartz. I have had the joy of working locally with the Chester Mystery Plays over the past 15 years, and it is always a pleasure to work with talented people from our city.
As an artist I work in far-flung destinations with the International Schools Theatre Association, most recently Hong Kong, Turkey, south of France and Australia. As a musical director l can be preparing to get bank managers to sing a Queen song at a national conference or farmers to sing a rock song in some remote part of Britain. In June I was compère for a national choir festival at the Birmingham Symphony Hall.
I also have the luxury of working in my own wonderful neighbourhood, the Garden Quarter. We have just finished a remarkable festival to celebrate the diversity of this corner of Chester as well as commemorate those who gave their lives 100 years ago. We are able to put on concerts, gigs, street parties, football tournaments, create new pieces of art and even make a film by just knocking on a few doors.
Nearly all my work has some connection with music – arranging an a cappella set for A Handbag of Harmonies choir or an anthem for several choirs. I go into schools to work with children or kick start a new term by getting a team of teachers to sing together and on a Sunday morning I may just be nursing a hangover whilst playing the organ at St Thomas of Canterbury church where we also have a wonderful choir.
My work is very varied, and mingles with my social and my community life. So really, I wake up in the morning and know that I will not achieve everything I want to achieve, or get paid for everything I do. But one thing for sure, I will get a great deal of satisfaction from the projects I am involved in.
Dress: Occasionally I work as an actor or performer, and so there are very few limits as to what I may have to wear. In the past this has ranged from a dazzling suit to belt and braces, pantomime baddy to dame, compère in a symphony hall to workshop leader in Africa. If I’m after funding you can guarantee I will be wearing a tie!
What is the favourite part of your job? The impact my work may have on others. I really love to inspire young people to perform.s
What is the least favourite part of your job? I can be a bad manager of time, and I hate it when I miss out on a holiday with friends, or a night out with the family, or seeing a great show because my diary is always over full.
What would be your dream job if you weren’t doing what you do now? TV presenter or prolific songwriter.
How do you relax when you are not working? I am lucky that my work is centred around music, and that can be a source of relaxation for many people. But when you are leading, rehearsing, arranging, creating and performing all the time, it is not necessarily relaxing, quite the opposite! Cycling really helps me to clear my head and also keep fit. I also like to bump into friends and have a drink or some lunch. I aim to get away on holiday a few times a year. A colleague laughed when I told him: “I have come to London to escape the hectic lifestyle back in Chester!”
What is your favourite film? As a closet Abba fan I thought I would hate Mamma Mia but it turned out to be one of my all time favourites.
What is your favourite song? 70s disco to dance to, 80s to take me back to my childhood, 90s house for good memories. Who do I respect? Queen, ABBA, The Specials, Stevie Wonder, Bacharach.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? People say I look like Danny Dyer but I’m not sure whether he plays the piano or accordion.
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet? Probably, but I’d like 15 minutes more.
- Name: Matt Baker
- Job: Composer, musical director and performer
- Born: Hawarden, Wales
- Lives: Chester
- Education: Bishops’ Blue Coat High School, Manchester Met Uni
- Family: Single
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