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Leader of the band

Posted on 30 April 2015  - 05:00

In football parlance, and referring to the all-conquering double team he grew up with, Spurs fan and music maestro Paul Bateman sees himself as a Danny Blanchflower figure rather than Bill Nicholson when he takes the stand at any given musical extravaganza.

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To coin a phrase, there are so many musical strings to Paul's bow - conductor, pianist, arranger and composer, a man who has recorded and given concerts with musical greats like Bryn Terfel, Jose Carreras, Sumi Jo, Jessye Norman, Barbara Hendricks, Lesley Garrett, Tito Beltran, Jason Howard, Sarah Brightman and Sir Paul McCartney.

"I suppose it's a bit like being a football manager but the thing is, you are right there with the orchestra, you are doing it physically," says Paul of conducting. So there you have it, he's Danny rather than Bill in his dream team. How apt that he's the 'leader of the band' as McNamara's Band famously belts out over the PA system as the players emerge for the second half at the Lane.

"Conducting is something people generally arrive at later in life because you need so many different experiences. I was a pianist, coached singers, worked with choirs then got involved with West End shows by accident really, as a pianist, one thing leads to another and it all adds up to the experience you need as a conductor."

Paul followed a family path into music, but his footballing journey might have been different had he made the same choice when it comes to the white or red of North London!

"I was born in Muswell Hill in the 1950s so when I became interested in football in the early 1960s, Spurs were the greatest, without a doubt," he recalled.

"However, my father was an Arsenal supporter! To be fair to him, he was born near Highbury, so I guess it was very magnanimous for him to take me to Tottenham.

"All my friends were Tottenham supporters. I went to schools that were geographically divided straight down the middle, to that rivalrly was instilled at an early age. I’ve been a Tottenham fan since the early 1960s and I’m delighted to say my children have also taken up the mantle!"

Football and music were Paul's passions from a young age. "I had a very difficult decision at the age of 12 or 13 because I wanted to play for the school football team on Saturday mornings but the option of going to music college - the Guildford School of Music - also came up and I had to choose.

"I’ve been very lucky. The phone rings and you never quite know what will happen next. Jose Carraras was a particular joy because he’s such a great artist. There is something magical about that.

"I’ve been working with Sarah Brightman for 15 years now. I’ve been on tour with her in Russia, Japan and the Baltics. She’s about to go into space! There is a young Maltese tenor called Joseph Calleja who has recently sung at Covent Garden, he’s fantastic and I’ve conducted a few concerts for him. I do arrangements for them as well, and that’s writing the music for the orchestra for their recordings.

"So at 12, it was pretty much equal passion between football and music - but I’m kind of glad music won out because it’s been a great career and travelled all over the world."

He's done just about the lot in his musical career, but there is one more dream. "Conducting at a football stadium? That would be quite an atmosphere. How wonderful it would be. You’d have to cover the grass! To do a concert at White Hart Lane would be my absolute dream!"