It feels strange writing this – I suspect that a huge percentage of people who view this website will know me already, but just in case that is not true, some introduction might be instructive.
My name is Jonathan Bungard, and I’m the director of music at Aldwickbury School in Harpenden. I have 4 children, 3 of whom live with my ex-wife; the youngest lives with me and my wonderful partner Sarah, in Kimpton, Herts.
I was born and bred in the North-East, in Teeside, where I attended a local prep school – Hurworth House – that sadly no longer exists. My father was a research manager for ICI (and then various iterations of that company after it split in two), and my mother was a piano, cello and theory teacher both at home and in various local schools. I have a younger sister, and she and I both grew up living and breathing music. I was always a cellist, and my sister is is a professional violinist in Scotland. From a very young age we went on holiday to the idyllic Isle of Raasay in the Inner Hebrides, where my parents now live. Walking, climbing and various water-related pursuits were our main leisure activities. On the inevitable seriously wet days, the family would retreat indoors and amuse ourselves with card games, board games, music and books.
Boarding school (Uppingham) followed, then a year as a choral scholar in Cornwall, then an economics degree in Cambridge whilst also singing in the choir at St John’s College. I was lucky enough to get a job as a member of the choir at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle that I took up immediately upon graduating, and from there I began a career as a full-time musician. I sang, for the following 12 years, with many of the finest choirs and ensembles in the country, alongside my job at the Castle and then latterly in the choir of Westminster Cathedral. I am particularly proud of my time with the EXAUDI vocal ensemble – a truly brilliant ensemble dedicated to the exploration and exposition of cutting edge contemporary vocal repertoire. Not for the faint of heart! I could write a whole article about the many wonderful places I visited during this career, the extraordinary pieces of music I sang, the wonderful people I sang and worked with and some of the many interesting people I sang for and met, but that is a job for another day.
Over the last few years of this part of my life, I had started teaching piano, singing and theory at a local prep school and also delivering a large part of the choral outreach programme from Westminster Cathedral. The break-up of my marriage and the need to have a more settled career, along with a recognition that I had probably reached the pinnacle of my own personal ladder, led me to move away from performing and into teaching full time.
I was hugely lucky to be appointed director of music at York House School, near Watford, and spent 4 very happy years there before moving to my current position 18 months ago. Six months ago I stepped down from my role with EXAUDI, and do very little performing these days.
I am a hugely keen sportsman, and the move into a more settled pattern of work has allowed me to return to playing rugby at Dunstablians RUFC. I will be celebrating my 40th by playing the beautiful game, and keep letting my expectations of when it will be time to retire slip (much to the exasperation of my mother, and possibly Sarah too!). I have discovered running in a big way, having completed 9 marathons to date (7 in the last two years), and also run ultra-marathons of up to 80 miles. This has taken a bit of a back seat since Thomas was born in November 2016, but I keep my legs in shape jogging home from school away matches at most of the prep schools in a 20 mile radius!
So there we are, some context. Even writing this small amount makes me stop and consider the huge number of opportunities I have had in my life thus far, and how lucky I have been. I haven’t begun to talk about cooking, DIY or photography, all of which interest me hugely as well. If I get nothing else out of the exercise of this website and blog, it will be an interesting journey in self-exploration.