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Max Charles Davies

Max Charles DaviesMax is currently working as a composer, arranger, teacher, and freelance musician based in Cardiff.He holds an MMus and a PhD in Composition from Cardiff Univeristy.
As a composer his music has been performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Warehouse Ensemble, the London Contemporary Music Group and Amy Dickson, amongst others. He has worked extensively as an arranger and orchestrator, and frequently performs as a pianist and cellist.  His website is at  

“Although I was born in Birmingham, I've lived in Cardiff for most of my life.

Following four years of undergraduate study at the Royal College of Music in London, I returned here to work for a year as a freelance musician and save for a Masters. I'd pretty much decided on going to a university rather than the RCM or another conservatoire, to experience a different environment.  So, I began to research different universities - their teachers, courses and locations.  The priority for me was to find the right teacher. 

There are different sorts of composition student - some are fast burning and prefer many different points of view, resulting in changing teachers fairly regularly.  I, however, am more of a slow burning variety, preferring to develop a deep rapport over a long period of time, and occasionally having consultation lessons with visiting professors on specific projects that fit their expertise.  This was the model I had experienced at the RCM and I chose Cardiff for postgraduate study because Professor Anthony Powers was teaching there at the time.

In 2006 and 2007, I devised and managed two projects at the School.  During one particularly 'involved' theoretical discussion about music-making in a postgraduate forum, Anthony Powers mentioned that whatever paths we had each taken to end up sat in that room taking part of this discussion, it started by learning an instrument. 

There are some great minds here that will challenge you in a largely positive way, which in turn will teach you to believe in the validity of your ideas.

I pursued this idea and formed an ensemble of postgraduates, and composers from Cardiff (both Cardiff University and RWCMD, wrote new variations on a theme of Mozart (2006) and Elgar (2007), which were then premiered in two thrilling (and well attended!) concerts.  Every facet of music making - from composition (some historically and/or musicologically informed), to performance to subsequent discussion was achieved and celebrated by our community and presented to a pretty respectably-sized audience!

I would offer this piece of advice to prospective postgraduate Music students: do your research.  Make sure that you pick the right teacher.  Listen to their music, correspond with them, talk to them, go and meet them and talk to their other students, to get a sense of what they are like.  This is your development and (unless you're funded) your money, so make sure that you get the maximum possible value for it. 

Cardiff University School of Music does have exceptionally good workshop provision for student composers, working with visiting ensembles that also contribute to the Tuesday night concert series at the school.  After all, it's hearing what we compose 'in practice' that is our greatest teacher. 

There are some great minds here that will challenge you in a largely positive way, which in turn will teach you to believe in the validity of your ideas. Cardiff itself is a wonderful city - the sea and beautiful countryside (as well as some great bars) are very close by to provide that necessary downtime, and it is a burgeoning cultural centre.”