Rob is the brains behind the cantata 'Katie Cox and the Rhythm of the River' a massive sell out at this year's Cookham Festival. But who is Rob? And what other strings does he have to his bow? I caught up with the music maestro to find out more on the exciting plans he has ahead.
Hi Rob, Tell me about you?
Hello! I’m a born and bred Berkshire boy who moved back to the area after years of acting, writing, playing music and creating theatre all over the place. I live in Cookham with my wife Zoe and our daughter Wren - I belong to the little known and rarely attended fringe social group ‘Dads about Cookham.’ Think it’s mainly just me.
How old were you when you found you had a musical talent?
Well my friend Meg and I won the Twyford Talent Contest when we were 4 - I played a ringmaster. So I guess then! And my Mum always took me along to local am dram shows.
You’re an actor too? What would we have seen you in?
My most recent TV appearance was in BBC Doctors. I was regular character in a ridiculous E4 show called Playing It Straight a few years ago, I was Pop in We Will Rock You and I did all sorts with my comedy a cappella group Barbershopera.
What prompted you to enter the business of music and acting? What comes most naturally to you?
It happened by accident. I was studying International Relations and my friend and I wrote a show which went to the Edinburgh Festival and did surprisingly well. We got offered a London transfer and it went from there. I think music comes most naturally, but mainly it’s just performing that I think I’m best at - being in front of a crowd. The crowd might disagree of course.
Would we know any of your musical work?
Yes Officially Amazing for CBBC was on for years - we got nominated for a BAFTA! That was a lot of fun. I’ve had a very small amount of success on youtube, both with my political raps and also with Barberhopera music videos. I’ve also written music for family shows in York and Southampton.
The cantata 'Katie Cox & The Rhythm of the River' you wrote was a huge success during the Cookham Festival, how was that? You were working with a lot of kids!
I loved it! They all did brilliantly and really took it seriously, very impressive to have such professionalism from primary school children. Judith Timewell was instrumental in all that though, I just did the fun bit of turning up to play and taking the glory.
What is your favourite piece of music?
That is an impossible question. It might be the theme from Cinema Paradiso. I want to play it on the piano but I’m also afraid to in case the process of learning it ruins it for me.
Where do you get your inspiration for writing?
Most recently from my daughter. I’m writing for a children’s youtube channel and most of those songs are based on stupid ideas my wife and I come up with on the spot. I guess I like the idea of writing songs that make people feel good about life.
What do you have planned next?
Tricky question! I’m trying to find a balance with everything. I am trying to get back into producing my own work. I have another gig (not for kids) at Norden Farm in July. Mainly this summer I am running a Summer School for local children - it’s a carnival theme five-day fun fest and at the end of it all we will perform a show that we’ve created. Details below!
Why is music so important for young children?
For so many reasons! Communication, rhythm, collaboration, learning words, listening to each other, learning how to express yourself, gaining confidence and just for the joy of music, getting in touch with real emotion and energy that music can bring. It is as old as humanity itself.
What can parents do to encourage music into a child’s life?
Play them everything - all styles. Let them experiment, don’t try and force it too much. Go and see shows, inspire them with the real live experience of music (like my show on Sunday, hint hint). Don’t patronise them too much either, it’s easy to think that children should be playing ‘kiddy’ music but they surprise you.
Who is your idol and why?
Lin Manuel Miranda. He does it all and he does it all really really well. He’s also got a social conscience and his work goes beyond entertainment, he reaches out, inspires people, informs and uses theatre to get people engaged. They use Hamilton (his musical) to teach history in American classrooms now, how cool is that?
Anything else we don't know about you and should?
I can occasionally be found over the summer leading the singing at mass karaoke events across London - www.massaoke.com
Do you have any other projects planned?
The Herries Showtime Summer School! It’s not just for Herries children though, do come along! I’d like to take Katie Cox to the next level and turn it into a full show!
Rob will be performing at a special Father's Day Concertini on Sunday!
Create some musical memories with an enjoyable and entertaining 45 minutes of musical theatre tunes and family favourites including songs from the Lion King and The Greatest Showman. Your little people will be able to dance, sing and move around, whilst grown-ups and big kids can enjoy listening to live music in a relaxed and friendly environment.
For a grown up night out, Rob brings an evening of solo songs and joyous fun to Norden Farm. The musical theatre writer, YouTube rapper and comedy song musical polymath has decided this time to deliver an evening that’s intimate, yet desperately exciting. Rob is known chiefly for his work as a writer, composer, musical director and performer with a cappella comedy group Barbershopera.