Mark Sealey

Mark Sealey is a life long music lover originally from Leeds. He was born in a household where no-one played an instrument or sang. He did take piano lessons on and off at an early age; but they didn't really lead anywhere. Serious music was valued at home, though; composers were discussed at mealtimes; the radio was always on.

Indeed it was largely the Third Programme in the 1960s and 70s that helped to form Mark's musical tastes. Now that its successor, Radio 3, has so spectacularly lost its way, Mark is a co-founder of the Friends of Radio 3 (FoR3); he manages its website.

Mark's mother's family did have something of a history of amateur performance and his father was a music lover and hi-fi enthusiast. Mark remembers 'helping' him to assemble a family of equipment by Heathkit, a system which really distinguished the casual from the determined enthusiast. He also remembers his father disposing of a huge quantity of HMV 'plum label' 78s to make way for LPs. It seemed like sacrilege at the time. so Mark thought he'd better spend every penny he didn't have to build up the world's largest record collection to compensate. And still does.

At this time (mid-1960's) he also learnt to splice reel-to-reel tape using a chinagraph pencil, and was involved in school music productions. He also started to hold his own in a world already beginning to use noise as a weapon. pirate radio stations, powerful car stereos, house parties, muzak.

A regular audience member of CUMC concerts at Cambridge, Mark then worked as a teacher, translator and interpreter in Verona in the late 1970s. He returned in 1979 to do a PGCE at Goldsmiths' in London, afterwards teaching in ILEA primary schools: for over ten years he attended two or three concerts a week - the South Bank halls; Wigmore Hall; St. John's, Smith Square and the Proms. He moved to Cumbria in 1990 to take a Deputy Head's position in a small rural primary school.

Fascinated by what computers could do for children, Mark eventually left teaching to edit a series of magazines and journals dealing with IT in education, as well as working on literally hundreds of consulting, writing and developer jobs. This led to a move to the United States: Mark met his Los Angeles-born writer and teacher wife, Roberta, via the internet. Now he works in California as a software engineer for the J Paul Getty Trust and runs a small web consulting business in his 'spare' time.

He founded the environmental action clearing house, BlackRhinoceros (now as good as defunct), writes regularly for 'Freedom' magazine and is a published poet always having to shut eyes and ears to the materialism and globalised anti-culture of North America.

Art music remains Mark's abiding love. Although he remembers once writing to the Controller of the Third to complain about the lack of jazz on the station and bought the odd Beatles record as a teenager, he believes the stature of 'classical' music, and its unself-conscious reaches to the soul, heart and brain, are unsurpassable.

His catholic tastes circle around music from cultures other than those of Europe and the north Atlantic, through the fragments from Classical Greece and Rome, to Cage and Cardew. one of the concerts about which Mark has most cherished memories is a full (ten hour, two day) performance at the 1985 Almeida Festival of the latter's 'The Great Learning'. It's uncanny that several of Mark's father's favourite composers (Monteverdi, Beethoven, Berlioz, Poulenc, Elgar, Shostakovich) are also his. Central to Mark's pantheon are also Bach, Palestrina and the renaissance polyphony tradition, Vivaldi and Handel, Purcell and the Elizabethan/Jacobean British composers.

Now Mark specialises in music before 1750. It has qualities (rhetoric, informality, spontaneity and expressiveness as well as its very sounds) which were lost by the end of the Classical period. Of almost as much delight as the music which Mark already knows and loves is his conviction that it's inevitable that composers, compositions and performances every bit as enthralling and of just as enduring worth to him will always continue to be discovered at the most unexpected moments.

Since 2007 he reviewed almost 300 items for Music Web International.


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