Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and make it your career?
My main motivation for composing has been the arrival of my children, which although taking up a great deal of time – has been a constant source of inspiration. In addition to this, I am very inspired by the countryside. When I began composing my latest album ‘Summit’, I was living very close to Richmond Park and I took much inspiration for the music during misty morning walks in the park. I am also very inspired by the area close to where I live now and I have tried to reflect the openness and beauty of the Chiltern Hills.
Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
I have been greatly influenced by working with my piano and composition students who have drawn my attention to all manner of composers and musicians both in ‘pop/rock’ genres and classical. I have also been influenced by working with rock and jazz musicians in a band environment where freedom of expression is sought and encouraged.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Recording my last album ‘Summit’ took a great deal of time and patience over many months.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
Commissioned work is an incredibly challenging task as often you do not have sole creative input into the final work. It is a collaboration of at least two or more people all with differing opinions on the final outcome. These challenges can be incredibly rewarding however and can lead to unexpected outcomes.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?
Composing can be a lonely pursuit so I always enjoy collaborations with other musicians. in 2008, I worked with a singer on an album of folk music which was a really enjoyable collaboration.
Which works are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my latest album of solo piano music ‘Summit’ written to reflect my love of the countryside and dedicated to my one year old daughter. Although I have released it as a CD, I primarily wrote it with the pianist in mind. I am very keen that my music should be interpreted and re-composed by the pianist.
Do you have a favourite concert venue?
I love venues which are ‘unconventional’ like outdoor venues. Last year I performed in a disused barn in the middle of a corn field which was great fun and very atmospheric.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
I love Bach for the truthfulness and inventiveness of expression. In particular, I am incredibly impressed by the way they solved structural problems in seemingly effortless ways. Modern composers I have taken influence from are John Tavener and Yann Tiersen.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Watching sir Simon Rattle conducting Beethoven’s 5th (from the choir stalls so I could see every expression on the conductor’s face) and feeling my daughter wriggle in my wife’s belly.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Take advice and instruction in an objective and critical way. It is important to remember that ‘you’ are the musician – it is your creativity and musicianship that are the most important aspects of your performance or composition.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am busy working on my second album of solo music, due to be published in late 2015.
What is your most treasured possession?
My piano and my violin.