An Article published in my company's magazine

Here is an article that appeared in the internal magazine for Scottish Widows (the company I work for). Free publicity is always good... The formatting isn't quite what it is in the magazine, but there's only so much you can do with the html in a blogger post

Music speaks
louder than words

Everyone loves putting the last piece in a puzzle and for Chip Michael, Compliance Consultant, finishing a composition is just the same. Charlotte McNeill meets Scottish Widows’ rising musical star.

“Once in your life you should undertake a task that is huge but possible, difficult ut obtainable. Something that when it’s done you can look back and say, ‘I did it’,” says Chip Michael, Compliance Consultant at Scottish Widows. Chip has done just that and in June 2008 his concert ‘Interchanging Idioms’ will be performed for the first time. Music is an important part of Chip’s life. “I started playing the trombone aged seven and became a pretty fair player. But playing doesn’t really satisfy me the way composing does. It doesn’t give me the same sense of accomplishment,” says Chip.

How did Chip first become interested in composing? “My wife and I had always been interested in musical theatre – deciding to write a musical seemed like a natural fit,” explains Chip. “My wife is a huge influence in every aspect of my life. I wouldn’t be composing music if it weren’t for her.”

But many sources spark his creativity. “Words, current affairs and conversations with friends all provide inspiration. I’m a romantic at heart so the composers I look to mostly have that same sentiment in their music. Debussy, Dvorak, Copland, Holst, Shostakovich and Britten all have a large impact on my writing,” he explains. The skills involved in Chip’s role at Scottish Widows lend themselves well to composing. “Composing music has many facets – the initial idea, then the working of it into all the possibilities, honing the possibilities into a form and checking every aspect of the music,” says Chip. “My role in compliance is very much like this. I am
“You have to listen to the world around you and filter through all the sounds to create some sense of order and then present them as music”

What does it take to be a good composer? “You have to listen to the world around you and filter through all the sounds to create some sense of order and then present them as music. Music can be technically perfect but lack heart so I think there must be some connection to the soul,” says Chip. “My wife often says that I don’t listen to music enough – this is because there is constantly music running about in my head.”

This will come as little surprise to Chip’s colleagues. “My co-workers often comment on how I hum at my desk. I hope they put it down to me being a quirky American and consider it a charm!” laughs Chip.

asked for information, but I have to gather it, sort through it to get at what really matters, organise it so it makes sense and ultimately go back over every detail to ensure the information is accurate.”

In Chip’s case, time management is also important as he is completing a degree in music at Napier University. “I work 30 hours a week on a flexible basis around my studies. Scottish Widows has been great at accommodating this.”

What’s next? “Where I’m going musically has started to explode. I’d love to do a Master’s but I’d like to work on another major project first, not necessarily a symphony. I’d like to work with the chamber orchestra or write a dance piece,” says Chip. Something tells me this will not be the last we hear from Chip.


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