About Us

Nick’s Profile

Nicholas was born in 1974 in Kent, and was educated at Chatham House Grammar School

Nick Downs - Director, North Downs Music Studio
Nick Downs – Director, North Downs Music Studio

for Boys in Ramsgate.  By the time he left school, he was proficient in playing bassoon, recorder, piano, viola, drums and percussion, having played for the Kent Youth Wind Orchestra & Kent County Youth Orchestra on bassoon & contrabassoon, touring with the former in 1990 to Singapore.

At Trinity College of Music, he studied bassoon with Stephen Maw and piano with Philip Coleman, leading to a GTCL qualification at 2:1 classification.  He continued at Trinity for a further year, on the Postgraduate Performance course, concentrating on the bassoon.

After leaving college, Nicholas began working as a musician with Kent County Youth Service, based at 3D Studios in Northfleet, where he worked with young people in musical fields, including organising & running a Battle of the Bands competition, junk orchestra, monthly discos, & setting up an in-centre radio station.  He also instigated & tutored on the “East Meets West” music project in partnership with Ranjit Shokar of Kent Music School, aimed at juxtaposing the cultural differences of western wind instruments with eastern percussion.

Nicholas married Helen in 1997 and they are currently living with their family in Gravesend, Kent.

He is a member of the Musicians’ Union, British Double Reed Society & Clarinet & Saxophone Society of Great Britain.  Between 1999 and 2004 he served on Gravesham Arts Council’s Executive Committee, representing in turn 3D Studios & himself, as an individual member of the Arts Council.  This has involved him in assisting with grant & sponsorship application decisions, providing sound reinforcement for arts festivals, and supporting other member societies in their regular events.

Between 1996 & 1998, he set-up & conducted the London South-East Methodist Youth Choir, a group of young people mainly based at Sittingbourne & Gravesend Methodist Churches, performing concerts in both home churches, Folkestone, and Pembury, and services across the District.  He was also the Musical Director & conductor of the Northara Singers, a group of mainly retired ladies who performed in & about the Gravesham area, from 1997 until January 2001.

He became self-employed as a musician in 1998, building up a highly successful private music teaching & performance business in the local and surrounding areas.  This led to solo performances with local organisations and clubs, as far afield as Reading, Cannock, Staffordshire, and Hounslow, West London, as well as singing the bass solos in The Crucifixion in Thanet & The Creation in Reading (31/5/1997).

He teaches bassoon, saxophone, recorder, drum kit, piano, keyboard, brass & clarinet.  He is also a regular guest player with the East Anglian Single Reed Choir on bass, baritone & tenor saxophones.

He has toured with a number of ensembles to various parts of the world, including Germany, Holland, Singapore, Malaysia and China.

After leaving the County Youth Service in 2000, Nicholas took up a post with Kent Music School as a part-time teacher of bassoon & saxophone, complementing his private tuition practice.  This took him across the county of Kent, teaching his instruments & led to the set-up of the acclaimed Saxophone Ensemble at his local Kent Music Centre in Gravesend.  This grew in size from a quartet to a nonet, and tackled music from all musical genres, including Nicholas’ own arrangements.  He also expanded his teaching for the service, to include drum kit and clarinet, as well as having responsibility for the Junior & Senior Centre Wind Bands, and Adult Ensemble – a group for adult players of all instruments at all standards.

Nicholas was, between 1996 & 2006, the Musical co-ordinator of Gravesend Methodist Church, a job involving organising the musical needs of the church, from providing musicians on organ to rock band, conducting choirs & ensembles for services & special events, researching & installing multimedia systems, as well as playing himself for services regularly on organ and in the Worship Band.  In 2001 & 2002, he conducted & sang the male solo parts alongside soprano Sharon Regan, in 3 performances of City of Gold, a production in words & music of visions of Heaven.

2004 saw the release of his first CD – a compilation of music from his one-man concerts – called Eclectic.  He arranged, sequenced, recorded & performed all the parts on every track of the CD, & is currently looking into future recording projects.

From January 2005, he was employed exclusively by Kent Music, as Assistant Area Manager for the Thames-Gateway area, encompasing the role of Head of Dartford Centre, based at the Mick Jagger Centre.  Projects included the “Endangered Species Project” aimed at promoting bassoon, double bass, trombone, french horn & tuba to years 5 & 6 pupils in the Gravesend & Dartford area, resulting in a bassoon population of some 13 players in the area.  He developed Wider Opportunities Projects on flute, clarinet, trumpet & trombone, and was heavily involved in their delivery in local schools and through the Red Rooster Project, funded by Sir Mick Jagger.

In June 2005, Nicholas was asked to be a part of a trio which was to develop into the Night & Day Jazz Duo, which performs across the North Kent area for private parties, corporate events or weddings.

In August 2008 he was made redundant from Kent Music, following a major reorganisation, and this has resulted in the setting up of the North Downs Music Studio, which has now become a limited company.  As part of this, he set up the Synchordia Ensemble – a community orchestra in the North West of Kent, which performed its first public concert in February 2009 with special guest ensemble Pifaresca  (See separate page for more details), and recently very successful concerts since then on their own.  Synchordia has now been running for more than 10 years, having consistently expanded its membership, and moved into self-ownership being run by committee with Nick as its Musical Director.

Christmas 2013 saw the ensemble branch out by way of the Synchordia Saxophones, a quartet of soprano to baritone saxes formed from members of the main ensemble, who are available to play for functions.  Their first performance was on Boxing Day 2013 in Southfleet, which was received well by a packed audience, and held their own recital concert at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Gravesend in September 2014, and helped out by providing music at a Christmas Cafe Church event in Gravesend in December.  Other concerts and engagements are currently being booked.  They also perform as part of Synchordia’s main concert, adding other players as required.  Nick is the current soprano player for the quartet.   (see Synchordia page for more info.)

Nick was, until 2017, the Musical Director for Hulviz Amateur Musical Society (formerly Hulviz Operatic Society), having conducted his first show with them “Happy as a Sandbag” in November 2008, and the Spring Concert in May 2009-2012.  The show for November 2009 was The Canterville Ghost, based on the Oscar Wilde short story.  The society celebrated their 80th anniversary in 2010, and had many exciting events throughout the year, including the Spring Concert – 80 Years of Musical Entertainment & the production of Nunsense: The Mega Musical Version in November.  In May 2011 they held their Concert – Hulviz Tours America, and a sell-out production of The Wiz happened in November, with Nick at the musical helm.  In 2012, they performed their concert “The United Colours of Hulviz”, with Nick conducting & providing musical accompaniments, and the November production of “When the Lights Go On Again”.  2013’s programme included 2 shows – Nunsense 2 in May and the November show – Tom Sawyer, both with Nick at the musical helm.  The 2014 concert, “Lights, Camera, Music” celebrated iconic songs from films, and led to a run of “Honk!” in November.  2015 saw them perform their usual Spring show in May entitled “Hulviz Jukebox”, and “The Wizard Of Oz” In November.  Since leaving the post after 10 years, he is now an invited MD for ad hoc performances with the company.

Following many years of planning, Nick purchased a new Schreiber Contrabassoon in 2009,  enabling him to play contra as well as bassoon on the professional circuit.

In 2010, he also purchased a sopranino saxophone, and a bass saxophone in May 2014 which add new and distincts colour to his saxophone work.  He also added to his list of published compositions on ScoreExchange.com.

In November 2011, Nick ceased being self-employed, and instead became the Director of North Downs Music Studio Limited.  Christmas 2011 saw Nick’s freelance orchestral work take him on tour to China with Kent Sinfonia, performing as Principal Bassoon in 10 concerts in the south & south-east of the country.

From April 2015 until its disbanding in July 2018, Nick took on the role of conductor & Musical Director of the PLA Choir in Gravesend, which performed several times for civic functions in Gravesend in the presence of the Mayor of Gravesham, as well as their own PLA Christmas Service at St George’s Church in Gravesend, and alongside local schools for concerts.

September 2015 saw the launch of the Synchordia Singers, providing an opportunity for singers of all levels to experience the fun of music making alongside the other Synchordia ensembles, with Nick as its conductor (see Synchordia page for more info).  Their first performance in public was in association with the PLA Choir & the choir of Manor Community Primary School from Swanscombe, in Gravesend Town Centre, in December, carol singing, accompanied by the Synchordia Ensemble.  The Singers have since been involved in the annual Synchordia main concert in March, as well as working alongside the PLA Choir in events throughout the year, and at their concerts.

Following several collaborations between the Synchordia and Alright On The Night Saxophone Quartets, Nick joined the latter as their regular baritone player in September 2019.

The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud bassoon” – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge