Cambridge Soundtrack: John Fulljames

Cambridge Soundtrack: John Fulljames

  • Album covers

John Fulljames (Christ’s 1993) Associate Director of Opera for The Royal Opera, talks about the transformative experience of theatre, music-making with friends and the challenges of conducting.

St John Passion - Johann Sebastian Bach

I read Natural Sciences, but my real passion at Cambridge was singing. I particularly remember a performance of this in King’s Chapel, with an early music orchestra and an outstanding set of soloists. Music-making at Cambridge was so inspiring – discovering a new repertoire and taking huge pride in performing it as well as you possibly could.

They can’t take that away from me - Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald

I was introduced to this during my first term and it opened up a new world of jazz for me. This song reminds me of that amazing freedom you have at university to stay up listening to music well into the early hours, making crazy amounts of noise.

Unfinished Symphony - Franz Schubert

I conducted this with the College symphony orchestra. I was a terrible conductor and did the unforgivable thing of dropping the baton, which almost gave new meaning to the ‘unfinished symphony’. The experience of making music with my friends, as well as having a go at conducting, mean that this piece is still very much with me. Music is such a key part of growing up; the best way to learn to love music is to make music.

L’Elisir d’amore - Gaetano Donizetti

In my final year, the Opera Society staged this at the Cambridge Arts Theatre. It was a massive moment in the move away from physics into music and theatre. I can still remember the buzz of the first night. The theatre was full and it was thrilling to see their responses. Theatre really can be a transformative experience and only makes sense when there is an audience. This project really taught me that.

Interview by Caroline Roberts.

Quartett, directed by John Fulljames, will be performed at Spoleto Festival, Charleston, South Carolina on 31 May and 3 June 2017

This article first appeared in CAM - the Cambridge Alumni Magazine, edition 80. Find out how to receive CAM.