Tom Hindmarch: An Interview with a Medic and a Tenor

FRINGEBACKER  Monday, 24 September 2012

Life is complicated for Tom Hindmarch.

Last month, the second tenor made a great impression with fans in Hong Kong, together with the other 9 members of British a capella champions All the King's Men, during the second leg of their historic FringeBacker-funded Asia Tour -- the first time that Hindmarch's voice is heard in Asia. What some do not know is that Hindmarch is working hard to combine his two lives -- the fifth-year of his degree in medicine at Cambridge and London, while singing on three international concert tours this year (and more to come).

Hindmarch was a choral scholar, a select group of talented singers chosen after a series of auditions, while studying for his medical degree at Cambridge University. After graduating from Cambridge, he continued the clinical stages of his medical degree at King's College London. Despite an academically and physically gruelling schedule of life studying medicine, and doing his hospital work every day, Hindmarch was drawn to All the King's Men. The group was already one of the top UK a cappella groups, by their fusion of fantastic musicianship and quality entertainment, and eventually was awarded third place in the International Championships in New York. It's no easy feat accomplishing a demanding medical degree and, at the same time, finding time for his passion to perform.

While expectantly looking forward to the release of their Asia Tour DVD, FringeBacker got the opportunity to speak with Hindmarch about his experience, where he shared with us his insight into how he manages it all. We've got to say that we're pretty impressed by all the exciting things he has done.

How did your passion for a cappella come about?
Well, my passion for singing began when I was about 15 and started writing my own songs (some of which are scattered across the internet)! I joined our school barbershop group, who were known for their comedic interpretation of songs. When I was 18, I was offered a choral scholarship at Cambridge University and was a member of Sidney Sussex Choir for three years there. After completing the pre-clinical stage of my medical degree, I decided to return to my roots. I had heard about ‘All the King’s Men’ whilst in Cambridge and decided to audition as soon as I arrived at King’s College London. Fortunately I got in! My passion for a cappella really developed within the group, mostly because we have so much fun, both on and off the stage, but also because we get to sing brilliantly crafted arrangements to a variety of fantastic audiences.

What is your most cherished childhood memory?
When I was two, and my father was studying at an unnamed Oxford college, I was caught urinating on the main college green… What can I say? The Oxford/Cambridge rivalry was alive even back then!

Do you wear boxers or briefs?
That would be telling… The answer begins with a ‘b’.

How to you balance studying for a doctor’s degree and pursuing your music passion?
With difficulty! The management team (Josh Darley and Cameron Carr) and Musical Directors (Henry Southern and Hugh Benson) are extremely understanding of my commitments elsewhere, and will work rehearsals around me. When not with AtKM, efficiency is vital so I try to multi-task (often unsuccessfully). For example, I have been known to sing in the shower (haven’t we all????) and like to read on my way to hospital in the morning, so as to keep my knowledge fresh. However, I still have time to play guitar and spend time with friends and family.

Do you practise singing during surgical operations?
Unfortunately, I’m still a little young to be operating, but when we are in theatre, we often have the radio on. Some surgeons even bring in CDs with their own playlists. As you can imagine, these are of variable quality…

If you were a character in House, who would it be?
Firstly, I love House! It’s incredibly addictive and I own pretty much all of the series on DVD. I’m not entirely sure, so I’m going to take the ‘Which House Character Are You?’ quiz……………
(5 minutes pass)
Apparently, I’m Dr. Robert Chase.

How do you keep yourself motivated when times get tough?
Simple. Chocolate.

What advice would you give to aspiring doctors who also want to get a life beyond studying?
Go get it! Medical school is very competitive, and this doesn’t change as you get older. I’ve always passed all my exams, but I’ve never had ambitions to come top of the year, and this has left me free to explore other hobbies. During my university years, I have found time to sing, play sport (mainly football), teach other students, and enjoy debating with friends over tea. At King’s, we very much abide by the philosophy ‘work hard, play hard’.

Tell us something that we shouldn’t know about you.
Hmmmm..... Is it possible to answer this question appropriately… Aren’t things a secret for a reason?.....

What's next for you after All the King’s Men?
Who knows? I’ll have to look at my options when I decide to leave AtKM… All I can really say is that I will keep singing as long as there are audiences that will listen.