Image: Mike Dixon Conducting with Dame Shirley Bassey at Glastonbury, 2007
Mike Dixon is an award-winning Musical Director, Musical Supervisor, conductor and arranger – known widely for his work on stage and television.
Mike worked directly with Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen in the creation of the musical, “We Will Rock You”, with Dame Shirley Bassey in Glastonbury in 2007 and conducted La Cage Aux Folles at the London Palladium (1986/7).
A favorite quote that inspires you
“Be kind” – it works in any context and is such a good mantra.
An object that has inspired you in your musical work
A vocal artist who inspires you?
Mel Tormé – his singing is silky smooth and always dead in tune – but he also means everything!
What insights do you most want to pass on to DIY singers as a musical director?
Make sure the balance between the piano/guitar/back track and your voice is good. We need to hear the words and generally your phone camera’s microphone will do an amazing job but it will not sort that balance out! Check things before you start.
You’ve worked with so many characteristic solo voices – are there any common musical elements between them that we can learn from?
Belief in what they are singing – this comes from absolutely knowing the material.
Thinking of self-taught singers, what musical skills would you encourage them to learn so that they can enjoy a long musical career?
Breath control and learning to always use support.
What are some approaches to vocal health or technique that you think served singers well that you have worked with?
As simple as it sounds the most basic thing is to breathe before your first phrase. It is amazing how many people have to be reminded to do that.
You’ve worked with a number of outstanding soloists – can you mention a time when you had “goose bumps” listening to a vocalist?
Simple: two events, both with the same song – “I Am What I Am” – the first time I played the song in a full rehearsal of La Cage for George Hearn – and then 20 years later in a rehearsal room with Dame Shirley and our first run through of the same song with the full band. She practically didn’t need the microphone. Major tingles both times!
What are you currently working on in terms of your music-career?
A big Gershwin project with Leslie Bricusse. Also, I have made a recording of ‘Mike at the Piano – the Lockdown Recordings’ which is released on 21st May – but not yet in the USA!
Mike Dixon graduated from Trinity College of Music in 1979 and over the course of his varied and multifaceted career established himself as one of the leading musical figures in the UK. Theatre credits include: Mrs Henderson Presents, Oh What a Lovely War, Bodyguard, Hair, Zorro, We Will Rock You, Footloose, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Aspects of Love, Doctor Dolittle, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and La Cage Aux Folles. Television credits include: A Life in Song – Tim Rice, Surprise Surprise, A Life in Song – Don Black, This is Lionel Richie, The Electric Proms, Concert for Diana, Glastonbury 2007, Pop Idol, The Royal Variety Show, Miss World, The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Rock Concert, and BBC Proms in the Park. Awards include: Helpmann Award for Musical Direction – We Will Rock You, Sony and New York Radio Awards (with TBI Media & BBC Drama).