The Wicks Phenomenon

I am honoured to be one of a select group of individuals who were subject to the ‘Wicks Phenomenon’ at an early age. The group were reunited a couple of weekends ago when we were each reminded of our good fortune and our mentor and inspiration, Allan Wicks, who passed away in February.

This has set me on a course to discover exactly what it was about the man and his genius that gave us all very special and rare gifts. In talking to my peers, I discovered that it wasn’t just me who had absorbed many of the personal characteristics of the man; we all have to a greater or lesser degree.

The light bulb is still burning brightly in each and every one of us. The results have been and remain to this day to be transformative in the true sense of the word. Extreme creativity, the development of talent, self-belief, emotional resilience, and personal power have been realized in virtually every case. This model is worth learning more about and I am going to do exactly that, so that I can share it with anyone who wants to become this influential too.

My BIG realization was about how important our legacy really is; not just the one we receive, but the one we pass on. For this man to have touched so many people in so many quite extraordinary and positive ways tells me that I, too, must do more than I am currently doing. I must accept the responsibility that was handed down to us all to pass on the principles that we have learned; principles that have enriched and in some cases revolutionized our lives.

I know I am capable – we all are – but capability is not commitment, and it is my absolute commitment to myself and to doing whatever is necessary that will ultimately determine how much of a legacy I can leave behind when I’m gone. I would love for this to be a version of the ‘Wicks Phenomenon’.

This may end up as a book. It may be a model that others can replicate. It will definitely be a part of my practice. Who knows? If you happen to have been one of this group, I would be delighted if you would share your views with me in order to expand the knowledge, insights and understanding around the ‘Wicks Phenomenon’. Thank you.

QJ The Inspirationist®. June 2010.


Posted on June 5, 2010, in Be Inspired, Music Business, Psychology & Influence. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Alastair Northway

    Hi QJ,

    Very interesting that you have written to me on this subject because I have been thinking about exactly the same! I too consider myself fortunate to have been mentored and inspired by Allan Wicks.

    Furthermore, I also have been pondering on why ~30 of our generation at the choir school took the time to show up and honour Allan who had such a great influence on all of us. This group was by far the biggest contingent that showed up, in fact I really did not notice that there were any other contingents actually.

    It has been said by a number of people that our generation was the best of the best – Allan said so himself, and without going into a list of names also quite a few others made the same observation. So what was it that was so good, so different about our group? That is a matter for a lot of serious consideration and discussion, – I am sure we will collectively come up with a lot of commentary.

    In 1961, he started probably the best job in his business – The Organist and Choirmaster of Canterbury Cathedral, head church of the Church of England and Cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Leader of the Church of England and Leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Clearly, he was extremely motivated and I am sure he was absolutely determined to make a difference immediately. I know that he knew he would do this in several ways, including through the quality and repertoire of his choir and of his organ playing.

    I think that he set about finding those of us that could contribute to his aspirations. So what was it that he was looking for in us? Here are a few….
    * Talent – we all had that otherwise he would not have been there.
    * Clarity of singing voice – he was looking for something special.
    * Teamwork – we would all need to be moldable and work as a team.
    * Individual strength.
    * Ability to learn and develop.
    * Self belief.
    * Resilience
    I am sure there were other qualites he was looking for and certainly he was not prepared to compromise, sending many away and in certain cases asking others to come back and test again. Once we were in his hands he certainly was extremely demanding and uncompromising, while at the same time understanding and compassionate. He would never settle for anything but the best and to him it was always about the performance and how we could all contribute both as individuals and as a team.

    Having worked with him for nearly four years, I left a very much better individual than when I started. I had survived the Wicks phenomenon! My singing voice had been trained and develeloped, I knew how to be a strong individual and how to work effectively in a team, I had learned and developed, I believed in myself and I was extremely resilient. All of this at the age of 13! There is no doubt that this stood me in good stead as I progressed through my teens and on to my career.

    My association with Allan resulted in a life long admiration of this genius of a man, who not only was a great Choirmaster, but an incredible virtuoso with genial qualities at the Organ. His repertoire was incredible, but what was outstanding and brilliant was his interpretation and rendition of the works of Olivier Messiaen. Some of these works are so hard to play that some regular organists will not even attempt them, however Allan not only did that but played it harder, better and louder than anybody. Hey Guys – try turning the pages for him when he was playing “Dieu Parmi Nous”!!

    In later years, I hooked up on several occasions with Allan including attending several of the concerts he gave when he was touring (after his retirement) with Carlo Curley (another incredible virtuoso organist). What a treat it was to hear him play and delight all the audiences that heard him.

    What really surprised me was that no matter how much time had elapsed between meetings he always recognised me and spent a great deal of time with me. He always was so interested in how one of his prodigy’s was getting along in life.

    So how did all of this early training impact me later on in my business life. Well people that know me say I am intense, committed, motivated, loyal, focussed, honest to name a few adjectives. I firmly believed I learned and developed all of those qualities at an early age under the most capable mentorship of Allan Wicks. This has enabled me to have a successful and fulfilling career in an industry that I really love and enyoy.

    It has also given me the opportunity to pass on to others some of these qualities in particular things like self belief, resilience, committment. I know that I too have mentored many individuals whose lives I have touched throughout my career.

    In closing, I have noted with interest through contact with my peer group that many other people have also been inspired and gone on to have incredibly successful and fulfilling careers in a number of different fields.

    Thank you,
    Alastair Northway

  2. Like QJ and Alastair, I too had the great fortune to be mentored by Allan Wicks. Returning home from his memorial service in May, I realised how important it is to pass on his legacy through my actions. For the past month I have been rehearsing a production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” on Cape Cod. Other than an Equity actress playing the part of Amanda, my three actors comprise a high school senior in the role of Laura, a recent college graduate who has never set foot on a stage in his life as the Gentlemen Caller and a promising young actor as Tom. Throughout the rehearsal process, I have found myself teaching these three young people about acting. It has been incredibly rewarding for me, and I hope for them. We opened last Friday and have been inundated with compliments, including this review –

    As I grow older, Allan Wicks’ influence on my life becomes greater not smaller. It has been almost 50 years since I came under his tutelage and to be able to know his influence is still prominent is a blessing. It is now my responsibility to teach others in my own small way.

    Dafydd Rees
    September 2010

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