Musician Andrew Knights has enjoyed a diverse career as an oboist in solo and orchestral settings (principal of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Bournemouth Sinfonietta 1983 – 1999) a teacher in schools, conservatoires and universities (Trinity and Southampton) and a conductor of orchestras and choirs. Now he specialises in working, through music, with those living with dementia. He was invited to create this model of work for Hampshire County Council (2002 – 2010) and he has further developed this in his many groups run by the Alzheimer’s Society (from 2008 until present).
After his training at the Royal College of Music, as an oboist, cellist and conductor, Andrew won a French government scholarship to study in Paris for two years. The surprising benefits of busking in Paris, both financial and artistic, led to him being invited to study in Berlin at the exclusive Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s Academy, created by the legendary Herbert von Karajan. He became principal oboe of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1983 initially, and then from 1991 with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, the BSO’s companion chamber orchestra. The Sinfonietta’s philosophy was to be an orchestra of the community, and Andrew was involved with many schools and community projects. Following the Arts Council’s decision to axe the Bournemouth Sinfonietta in 1999, Andrew concentrated exclusively on teaching and community music projects in Hampshire.
In 2002 Andrew was invited to create a musical programme which would provide enjoyable engagement for residents of Hampshire County Council residential and nursing homes. This marked the beginning of a very focused period of work and musical development for Andrew. He was invited by Clive Holmes, Professor of Biological Psychiatry at the University of Southampton, to join a research project to appraise the beneficial effects of music in such settings. The results were recorded in International Psychogeriatrics in June 2006. The Executive of Hampshire County Council was also appreciative of the benefits of Andrew’s music groups and submitted them for appraisal by the National Audit Commissioners.
Andrew still very much enjoys being an oboist and teacher of the oboe, and continues to give many solo concerts on the instrument. It is the work of using music to engage those living with dementia that he values above all.