I work for Julian Lloyd Webber

James Murphy, 21, is PA to the musician
Click to follow
The Independent Online
I studied music at York University and left wanting a job in an environment where music was being made to the highest standard. In January I answered an ad in the newspaper for a PA to a successful musician. I was pretty surprised when Julian Lloyd Webber rang me since I hadn't expected the musician to be someone quite so famous, or someone I admired so much. Not only is Julian one of the best known cellists in the country, he has the ability to bring classical music to a wider audience. During the interview with Julian the conversation soon shifted to football and it seemed clear that we had a good rapport - he chose me out of one hundred applicants. Being a muso I wasn't really familiar with the PA's usual skills, but typing now comes naturally, albeit with two fingers.

My office is in Julian's flat which he shares with his wife Zohra and their five-year-old son David. We decorated my office together, Julian sticking a picture of Leyton Orient , his favourite team, above my desk for inspiration. I don't feel lonely because Julian is in and out of my office every five minutes and practises in the next door room. I admire his dedication, which I could never match.

My work can include anything from listening to edits to paying his water bills or racing round town finding his cummerbund, it never lapses into routine. I regularly liaise with his agents who secure all the concert dates and recordings and and ring in with ideas and bookings. I also collect and file all press cuttings which is rewarding because I like seeing the results of my press releases in print. With Julian bursting with new ideas for projects there's never a dull moment. For example he might have the idea of adapting a well known piece like Bach's Air on a G String to suit a cello and I will rush to the library to see if any of the existing versions are viable. Far from being a little gophering servant, my input is valued by Julian who likes me to be around. He asks for my critical opinion of his work from the artwork on his latest CD to the quality of the textures and sonorities of the recordings or whether I simply like a piece or not. A year ago I would never have dreamt of being this involved. Julian's father's music is currently undergoing a revival and my role in the process is to proof the scores on disc with a fine tooth comb to make sure that all mistakes are removed. It is very exciting to assist in bringing to light music that's never been heard before or, in the case of Michael Nyman, music that arrives fresh from the composer.

Nyman composed the first concerto for saxophone and cello and as he finished each piece. he would fax it over to us. We rushed from the fax to the piano, where I would play the new composition through with Julian - it was very exciting. The final concert was sponsored by Mazda, who laid on the most hysterically over-the-top party at the Design Museum where champagne flowed all night and food was shipped in from around the world. These perks are not commonplace so I made sure I stocked up on the champagne. In the same week Julian was asked to press the button on the National Lottery show and dragged me along to the studio. We sat in the BBC bar and met the celebs - like Carole Smillie - which was entertaining.

Perhaps the most stressful part of my job is ferrying Julian's priceless Stradivarius cello around in the front seat of the car because, being fairly new to London, I am still having difficulty navigating and I am terrified of having a crash. When Julian travels I hold the fort. I like the sense of responsibility it gives me. I've only met Julian's brother Andrew on one occasion. They meet up during personal time and otherwise function as two separate entities.

Being in an environment where music is being made is the biggest buzz. But the best thing about the job is the scope of my work. I particularly being involved in concerts, recordings and appearances whilst meeting some of the key figures in the industry and working with someone with whom I get on with extremely well. Although things can get stressful I have never seen Julian blow his top, we share a sense of humour and he's good at calling time-out and taking us to the pub. I arrive in the office at 9.30 and leave at 5.30. I just tend to grab lunch and eat in the office, I'm not really interested in wandering around the streets for an hour or so just for the sake of it. Once I've bought my food I want to get on with my work. The question of what next hasn't really occurred to me yet - there are so many exciting things going on here that I want to see through. As long as I can continue in this vein I will be happy. We have many common interests including pop music and the Spice Girls. I'm sure if they approached him with an idea for a Spice Girls and Julian Lloyd Webber arrangement he'd be keen. I know I wouldn

Comments