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[General curriculum vitae]

Simon Grant's general recreational interests

music | sport | culture | other pastimes and games

Music - active

This is my best developed interest at the moment. I have enjoyed from an early age singing (e.g. carols) at school and at home, particularly in harmony. I sung in the "Glee Club", though not the chapel choir, at Winchester, where I got to know many of the big masses and oratorios, and in various choirs in Oxford. Since then I have generally sung bass, which suits me fine. 1988-1990 I sung with the University of Strathclyde Chamber Choir, under Alan Taverner. In London I have sung with the Camden Chamber Choir, and the 1993-4 season with the excellent Renaissance Singers (of London), at the time under Michael Procter. In Italy, 1994 to 1996, I sang with Geoff George in the European Choirs, and briefly with the Cammerata Polifonica of Milan, under Ruben Jais and Alfonso Caiani. In Liverpool, around 1999 I sang with the Renaissance Music Group (Morris Davies) and in Manchester, up to around 2004 with the William Byrd Singers of Manchester, an excellent chamber choir that was directed at the time by the aged but eminent Stephen Wilkinson. Around 2011 to 2013 I was singing with Duodecimo, a great chamber choir practising in Chorlton, Manchester. Now (2015 onwards) I am with a group called Divers Voyces – though not the only choir of that name.
I would also particularly like to form small ensembles, one or two per part. I very much like music in more than four parts.
Much though I would be flattered, please don't confuse me with another Simon Grant who is a real professional bass singer...
I played the piano as a child. At Winchester I took some lessons on the organ.
I am looking out for a possibility of learning the violin.


Cross-country running, for pleasure, is something that I have kept on with for many years, and hope to continue gently for as long as I can. I was in the teams at school and college. I have never yet run a marathon, but maybe one day.
Not an active hobby, but one which I did at school and university, and could well do again.
Also much enjoyed over the years, and something I have often done with my children.
When I was young I did a lot of dinghy sailing at Bassenthwaite. I still enjoy sailing when I get the opportunity. I have never sailed on the open sea, but would enjoy it if the chance came. I have also tried wind-surfing briefly.
I learned this at school, and enjoy it from time to time, not often.
Team sports
I do not like cricket or rugby. Football I play with pleasure, if little talent.


Poetry and literature
I'm rather a sporadic reader, but I like many classics. Of poetry and fiction, I have particularly enjoyed Donne, Herbert and other metaphysicals, T.S. Eliot, Tolstoy, D.H. Lawrence, Hermann Hesse, Primo Levi, and many other authors. I appreciate children's stories from the relatively modern author Margaret Mahy, as well as an old favourite, Rudyard Kipling. I have greatly enjoyed Dante's Divina Commedia, read in a mixture of English and Italian. Non-fiction relates more to my significant concerns: what matters to me more directly.
Renaissance Italian painting (up to and including Caravaggio); The "Pre-Raphaelites"; Constable and Turner;
Most pre-baroque architecture, and some modern. Having lived in Glasgow, I must say I like Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other Art Nouveau, but not so much Art Deco. I don't like things that come across as fake, including the usual Victorian "Gothic". Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican), on the other hand, I see as a masterpiece.
I prefer simple, functional, beautiful design: old or new. Of course I am now biassed in favour of Finnish design, Marimekko, Iittala, etc.
Some of my favorite films are European. If I had to go for one favourite director, it would be Eric Rohmer. I dislike explicit or meaningless violence. I do like meaning in films. For humour, give me Woody Allen or Roberto Benigni; or of course classics like The Life of Brian or A Fish Called Wanda.
Theatre, ballet
I like Shakespeare, Rattigan, Ayckbourne, lots of people really. Remind me of some more. I'd like to see more ballet and modern dance. I've never got into opera, though I enjoy musicals.
Concerts and listening to classical music
I don't much like background music, or music while I work. It is better for me to listen and appreciate. I enjoy listening to the kind of music I like singing, particularly music of the renaissance: my favourite composers are probably Tallis and Gesualdo, followed by many including Byrd, Gibbons, Josquin, Mouton, Dufay, and similar. In general, I tend to favour deeper, more spiritually-flavoured music. Bach was a good start (when I was at school), and my tastes worked quickly backwards to renaissance and medieval, including Hildegard of Bingen. I also like quite some of the later works of, for instance, Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms. I have never really "got into" modern music as such, though it is often more fun to sing than to listen to, as in singing it one gets to understand a piece more and be more involved with it.
Popular music
I have always liked the Beatles, since around 1964. At Winchester, I also enjoyed listening to Simon & Garfunkel, the Incredible String Band, Leonard Cohen. I like the occasional bit of pop music, when it seems to say something of significance. Examples would be the original Good Charlotte, or more recently Mika's "Grace Kelly". Anna introduced me to the Finnish a cappella group Rajaton, which is now my firm favourite, though their styles extend well beyond the popular. Their singing is amazing, and we heard them live in December 2006 in Helsinki.
Sport, television
I rarely watch any.

Other pastimes and games

I started, with gliding through RAF connections at school, at the age of 16. My first "first solo" was at Old Sarum airfield in a very old-fashioned winch-launched glider. At 17, I did a "flying scholarship" with the Oxford Air Training School at Carlisle Airport (summer 1973), flying mainly Piper Cherokees. I was a member of the Oxford University Air Squadron 1975-1976, where I did another 35 hours or so in total, in Bulldogs.
From 1977 to 1980 I was involved in the "Newbury Manflier" man-powered aircraft, at Greenham Common, organised by Nick Goodhart (Rear-Admiral H. C. N. Goodhart formally). We did actually get off the ground at least once, but the struggles were finally defeated by the arrival of cruise missiles, and we missed the Kremer prize.
In 1989, during my PhD, I did an Elementary Pilot's Certificate in hang-gliding at the Windlord school in Northumberland. I would like to do more of this, or perhaps paragliding.
This was a strongpoint at school, where I was the school captain. I never played seriously at university or later.
An unusual past pastime, exercised at school.
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