After beginning piano lessons at the age of seven, and following a short spell as a chorister at Birmingham Cathedral, I moved to Sheffield where I took up the euphonium in addition to the piano. This led to many years in the then recently formed Tapton Youth Brass Band, during which time we won numerous national awards, played at the Royal Albert Hall on two occasions, appeared alongside internationally renowned artists and undertook annual European concert tours. From the age of twelve I was the pianist for a local amateur pantomime, quickly becoming musical director and eventually co-writer and then director. This immensely enjoyable seven-year period gave me the opportunity to write a number of original songs and parodies for the pantomimes and have my first compositions performed. In addition to this I was in demand as an accompanist, taking part in numerous concerts with soloists and groups, and acting as répétiteur and assistant musical director for productions of West Side Story, Hansel and Gretel and Whistle Down the Wind.
After moving to Newcastle upon Tyne to further my studies in composition at university I continued to be involved in musical theatre, contributing a song and incidental music to a theatrical adaptation of Sarah Waters’ Tipping the Velvet, entitled Out of the Corset, and playing in the orchestra for a production of West Side Story with Newcastle University Theatre Society. My job at Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School gave me the opportunity to take part in productions of West Side Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes, as well as Annie, for which I also arranged all the orchestral parts for the forces available. I was also able to conduct the orchestra for a production of Guys and Dolls. Through my partner (now wife) I also became involved with another local school and played for their productions of Kiss Me Kate at The People’s Theatre and West Side Story at Northern Stage. I also arranged music for their orchestra and sang with their Choral Society in Mozart’s Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
My studies at Newcastle University have given me the experience of working with and composing for professional musicians and I have had works performed in concert by the Royal Northern Sinfonia and the Momenta String Quartet. Under the supervision of respected composers Agustín Fernández and Tim Garland and through a variety of workshops I have been able to hear my works performed and develop my craft. Since finishing my studies I have completed a variety of commissions and begun work on a small-scale music theatre piece. In my current job, which gives me the time to continue my composition work, I started a choir for students and staff and arranged music for the group, and I continue to work as an accompanist, playing for Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School’s annual Prizegiving ceremony at the Sage Gateshead over recent years and a concert tour to Prague in 2010. I have also acted as a répétiteur for a Newcastle University production of Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel, and accompanied a friend for her BMus final year recital. In 2012 I was involved in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (Parts 1 and 2), a highly ambitious undertaking at The People’s Theatre to celebrate their centenary year. This production of two full-length plays, involving a large cast playing almost a hundred characters, required the composition of a great deal of incidental music for a group of on-stage musicians as well as the arranging of three songs and the rehearsal of these with the cast. More recently I worked on RC Theatre Productions’ critically acclaimed adaptation of Mozart’s Don Giovanni staged at London’s Heaven nightclub. The story was transferred to the club scene of 1987 and in this new setting Don was openly gay resulting in the highly complex task of arranging an entirely new vocal score swapping all but the title role from female to male and vice versa. I travelled to Teplice in the Czech Republic just before Christmas 2013 to supervise the recording of the orchestral parts with the North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra (under the baton of Charles Olivieri-Munroe), and the show will hopefully begin touring at some point in the future.
2015 so far has seen the completion of two commissions for my wife, one in her role as a violin teacher (12 violin duos) and the other an ongoing project for her blog, Hello! Hooray!. I also worked with The People’s Theatre again on an adaptation of Horace McCoy’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, which involved a great deal of arranging (for a five-piece jazz band) and one very small piece of composition – a short advertising jingle for two of the characters to sing!