With more than thirty years of teaching experience, an active performer as a pianist and accompanist, Jane is the owner of Forte School of Music in Cardiff. The first Forte school was opened in the UK by Roland UK Ltd in 2000, when Jane was also working for Roland UK as a Group Manager for their growing concessions business, managing teams of people demonstrating pianos, keyboards, drums and music software in department stores around the country, including The Ideal Home Show.
Jane was involved with the Forte school in Cardiff from the very beginning, supporting the annual Forte Festival, taking part in joint initiatives and, finding herself loving the teaching style and core skills taught in Forte lessons, joined the teaching team in 2003, where she worked her way to become senior teacher. Jane took over ownership of the Cardiff school, which has welcomed thousands of pupils through its doors, in October 2009.
Jane has recently been seen performing at Acapela for their dining evenings, as well as having previously provided music in the restaurants at the Celtic Manor and St David’s Hotel and can regularly be seen in concert with Llantrisant Male Choir and Caerphilly Male Voice Choir, as their accompanist – she even gained an audience with Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall last month!
Who’s your favourite composer? - I fell in love with Mendelssohn’s music back when I was doing my grade 8 piano exam and selected Duetto from Songs Without Words as one of my performance pieces. To this day I get great pleasure from playing through the book and enjoying the harmonies, the intertwining of the parts, the big build ups to the warmest of finales, the unexpected turns and the joy which it brings to the listener when they first hear his music – such a pleasure for the performer and listener alike!
Who’s been the biggest musical influence in your life so far? Billy Joel’s music has been with me every step of the way. The first single that I ever bought with my own money was Uptown Girl. My ability to sight-read just about everything comes from buying his Greatest Hits book and making myself play through it from start to finish, at a stage in my studies where I was disappointed not to be able to pick up music and just play it, after all of the work that I had put in – by the end of the book I had cracked it! At college I performed Honesty and New York State of Mind in assessments and taught the choir an arrangement that I wrote of Lullabye. Even at Forte I still reference his work in my classes, as in the chorus of This Night he sets lyrics to Beethoven’s Adagio from Sonata Pathétique, which is a great opportunity to get my students listening to both Billy Joel and Beethoven in one go!
What’s your favourite piece of music? I will readily travel to hear Karl Jenkin's The Armed Man being performed over and over again, I have even been to see it at The Royal Albert Hall. I used to love hearing it performed with the visuals on a large screen behind the orchestra though, alas, that seems to have stopped touring, though the DVD is well worth a look, if you can get hold of it. The work was commissioned by the Royal Armouries for the Millennium and is a mass for peace, starting with a call to prayer, taking a journey through the leaders of the world calling for war and then the citizens of the world fighting and suffering as a result. The journey then continues through the rebuilding after war, ending with the hope of peace for the new millennium. With the visuals, there was a spine tingling moment where the twin towers collapsed to a cacophony of sound from five percussionists and the howling and screaming of the choir. This was quite possibly the most moving moment I have ever had in a performance, which peaks and then falls to absolute silence, only broken by the occasional sob of an audience member. Powerful stuff. My favourite part of all is Benedictus, I weep without fail every time I hear it - such emotion in just a handful of notes.
What style of music do you relax to? Believe it or not, I mostly enjoy silence at home, which people are often surprised to hear. My day is so full of music, by day and by night, that the last thing that I think of doing is putting more on when I get home, as I am ready for a bit of peace and quiet by then. I do wake up to a bit of Radio 2 in the mornings though.
Who’s your favourite performer? I never tire of seeing Billy Joel perform and he can take the credit as being the only artist ever to get me up in the aisles dancing for a full three hours, with hit after hit after hit!