I studied for my first degree at Huddersfield School of Music, where I won the composition prize for an abridged setting of a magical tale, told in 42 poems of various lengths, by Roger McGough called Summer with Monika (1978). A central, male character immediately adds a sense of “theatre” to the performance as he narrates the poems to tell the story, accompanied by a small ensemble. As my fascination with “music theatre” began to develop, I studied for an M.A. in composition with Roger Marsh, an advocate of the technique, at Keele University. Several compositions were written and performed here, alongside songs and music for a successful production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1984.
After several years as an instrumental teacher and freelance performer, both in classical and contemporary music as a cellist and jazz music as a pianist, I continued my studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, under the supervision of the composers Robin Grant and Philip Cashian. Among my compositions was a large work for soprano, tenor and orchestra called A Simple Love Song (2002) which was inspired by the poem: To His Lost Lover (1993) by Simon Armitage. The work has a strong sense of “music theatre” in the setting of the main characters as the graceful soprano soloist and a sardonic male member of the orchestra. My Ph.D. was awarded in March, 2004.
In recent years, my compositions have been performed in Birmingham and London and several new works are scheduled for performance over the next twelve months, including a setting of five poems for tenor, piano and cello.
I have been a tutor with the OCA for twelve years, in which time I have always been inspired by the wide variety of experience students on both courses bring to this unique programme of creative education.