Meet the Artists: Raphael Clarkson

Meet Raphael! A Spitalfields Music Trainee Music Leader, who’s working with The Cherry Trees School for our Takeover Spring Festival day.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Raph Clarkson, and I play the trombone, the piano and occasionally I sing. I like to play lots of different styles of music (including jazz, contemporary music, ska, reggae and south african township music) in lots of different bands and projects; I particularly enjoy being creative, through improvisation, composition and collaboration with other artists. Alongside my performing work I’m involved in running music workshops for children and adults, as well as teaching instruments in schools.

What are you most looking forward to about your school’s Takeover festival?

I can’t wait to hear and then work with all the wonderful ideas that the children will come up with… young people have an incredible ability to think outside the box and suggest things that you would never expect. I’m looking forward to the many exciting surprises in store!

How did you come to start making music?

I was very lucky that both my parents were musicians; my mum played the violin, and my dad the viola. I was therefore introduced to music at a very young age, starting to play at around the age of 3, with music always heard in the house as my parents rehearsed with their own ensembles. It felt very natural to grow up making music in and outside school, and this is the main reason why I’m a musician today.

Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

It’s a classic (and cheesy!) answer, but it has to be my dad – for bringing me up with such love, generosity and care, for supporting all my choices in life and for sharing his incredible musicianship with me.

When you’re not making music, what do you get up to?

When I get the chance I love to play football – I love watching it too, and have similar interests in quite a few sports, like cricket and tennis. I also enjoy a good story, whether it’s on the big screen, the stage or in a book.

Could you share a favourite project you’ve worked on recently? 

Last summer I helped to organise and lead a series of workshops for BeCreative Music Workshops in Merton, helping primary school children to write, record and perform songs inspired by the theme of ‘Backstories’. My favourite part was when the children performed their songs to their parents and the rest of the school.