alt-J star and Old Elean Gus returns to King’s Ely to speak at annual lecture

Gus Unger-Hamilton – Old Elean and member of hit band alt-J – returned to King’s Ely to speak at this year’s James Bowman Lecture.

Gus is keyboardist in the critically-acclaimed British indie rock band, alt-J. The band was formed in 2007 whilst Gus was reading English at the University of Leeds. Gus started his singing career at King’s Ely when he joined the school as an Ely Cathedral boy chorister.

The band’s debut album, An Awesome Wave, was released in 2012 and won the British Mercury Prize that year. Their second album, This Is All Yours, was released two years later and went straight to UK number one. In 2017, the band, currently playing as a trio, released their third studio album, Relaxer.

Gus was guest speaker at the school’s James Bowman Lecture on October 11th, where he inspired Senior students, staff, Old Eleans and guests by talking about his time at King’s Ely, and his life and career so far.

Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, said: “It was great to welcome Gus back to his old school. He spoke beautifully and, couched in the entertaining terms one might expect, delivered a profound message to our students. It was lovely to see that fame has not gone to his head. His candour and humility and openness to a wide range of questions left an impression of a fine human being.”

The James Bowman Lecture was established by King’s Ely four years ago to promote the creative and liberal arts at the school, and is generously supported by the Old Eleans’ Club.

James Bowman, CBE, is a world-renowned counter-tenor, whose career spans opera, oratorio and solo recitals. He was educated at King’s Ely between 1951 and 1960, singing as a boy chorister at Ely Cathedral, before going on to study at New College, Oxford, where he was a member of New College and Christ Church choirs.

He spoke of his career as “a wonderfully exciting journey” and remembers his time at King’s Ely fondly commenting, “I can’t emphasise enough the profound effect this school has had on me”, going on to say, “The school taught me the real meaning of musical discipline, for which I am eternally grateful.”

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Press release form King’s Ely 

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