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News > Featured Old Queenians > Featured OQs - Nick Macrae

Featured OQs - Nick Macrae

Nick Macrae (OQ, 1984-6), former music scholar, went on to pursue an exciting career in law. Read about Nick's life at Queen's and his career in this article by Alumni Officer, Geoff Bisson.

Nick Macrae (OQ, 1984-6) was awarded a music scholarship to study at Queen’s as a sixth former. He had previously sung with the choir as guest treble during a summer tour of Brittany. The Director of Music then, Lindsay Gray - himself a former choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge - was known for running the leading music department in Taunton, and Nick’s move to Queen’s was inspired by the opportunity to be taught by him.  Nick remembers the daily morning choir practice, live radio and television recordings for the BBC, as well as playing the organ at the occasional service and co-leading the school orchestra (with Jacqueline Stock).  Performing in an unusual double bill at the Brewhouse Theatre of Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’ and Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury’ was icing on the cake.

Apart from music, Nick studied French and History. He now speaks six foreign languages and continues to be interested in history. His paternal grandfather, Colonel Stuart Macrae, was second-in-command of the top-secret WWII weapons development organisation known as MD1, and co-inventor of the limpet mine.  Colonel Macrae’s wife worked at Bletchley Park. Nick’s maternal great-grandfather, Revd Reginald Wynter, was Rector of St John’s Taunton a hundred years ago, becoming a minor national sensation when he was deprived of his living in 1920 by an ecclesiastical Consistory Court for ‘papist practices’ and evicted from the church building by bailiffs.

Nick went on to study music at Clare College, Cambridge (see first picture below - Nick standing on the college bridge), where he was choral scholar at nearby Queen’s College and holder of an instrumental award as violist of a leading university quartet.   He also served as Treasurer of the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra, putting on concerts twice a term with professional conductors and soloists.

After completing a Music Masters at King’s College London, Nick changed path and became a lawyer.  An M&A lawyer at Clifford Chance, he later moved in-house to the Hollywood film studio, Warner Bros. He quickly rose to be head of the legal department for the Home Entertainment division across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  This coincided with Warner Bros. producing ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Lord of the Rings’ and the re-booted Batman films. Attending both the first and last Harry Potter premieres was a memorable highlight, particularly arriving just behind Madonna on the red carpet and experiencing the glare of the global press pack. 

At the studio in Los Angeles he was in the audience for the shooting of one of the final episodes of ‘Friends’, and found himself at a table next to George Clooney in the executive dining room. When not celeb-spotting, Nick negotiated content deals with Sky, Amazon and many others, and worked with the studio’s public affairs team to ensure the best regulatory framework. In the course of this work he spoke at a public hearing on digital copyright law in Brussels (simultaneously translated by interpreters into several other languages).

In 2017 Nick moved to Amsterdam where, courtesy of his Dutch husband, Ivan, he has become a British-Dutch dual national. They divide their time between Amsterdam and London, where Nick is now working as a business coach.  In his coaching practice, Nick works with clients to unlock their potential and navigate their career progression in a way that enhances a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Nick retains deep contacts with the arts, sometimes playing in the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and also with the Mozartorkest Amsterdam (see second picture below - from a concert at the Floriade Horticultural Show).  He is Junior Warden Elect of the Worshipful Company of Needlemakers, one of only two City livery companies founded in Cromwellian times. He hosted a series of webinar interviews for the livery during the early months of the pandemic, with guests including opera singer Dame Sarah Connolly, the Bishop of Southwark and Nazir Afzal, Chancellor of Manchester University and former Chief Prosecutor. 



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