A bit about me …
My musical life started at an early age, picking up the recorder when I started primary school I progressed to the flute when I was 8 years old. At age 16 I had gained a distinction at Grade 8 and a music scholarship to St Lawrence College in Ramsgate, Kent to do my A-levels. There I won the Dyer Music prize in 1991 and both the Simon Dixon Music and Macfarlane prizes in 1992, and was very active in the musical life of the community of Thanet, and the school, singing in the choir and playing the flute, piano, percussion and the bass guitar!
Graduating with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Music and English from Keele University, I was head of the percussion section in my second year and became principal flautist in the university orchestra in my final year. At university I played and sung in various musical societies, was Treasurer of two societies, and gave a number of solo performances during my three years there. I went on to do an MA in Music (Performance) graduating from Canterbury Christ Church College in 1999, and enjoyed performing in various concerts at St Gregory’s Centre for Music (in Canterbury) as well as giving two solo recitals there in 1998 and 1999.
Currently, and since 2008, the majority of my solo performances take place in London as part of the UCL Chamber Music Club (CMC), see Concert Listings for further information.
One of my most memorable performances was at a cultural evening while volunteering for a music and arts programme on San Cristobal island in the Galapagos in 2017 … I had bought a wooden Nepalese flute to present to my hosts as a gift, and ended up using it to play a piece of music I composed especially for the evening!
Since my teenage years I’ve performed in various charity concerts in Kent as a guest performer. A highlight was a benefit concert in aid of the child victims of the Tsunami in 2005, which was reported in the society pages of Kent Life magazine. Other enjoyable performances as a guest soloist were in concerts for The Marlowe Singers, the Faversham Music Club and The Society of Recorder Players (Kent branch).
My first experience with an orchestra was at the age of 16 actually playing in front of it performing Cimarosa’s Concerto in G major for two flutes and orchestra, with Karen Brown and the Old Barn Orchestral Society (OBOS). More recently, in February 2018, I performed Holst’s Fugal Concerto, for flute, oboe, and string orchestra, Op.40 at a Friends & Family concert. Since that time I’ve been involved with the orchestra on an ad-hoc basis, and am now the Treasurer and principal piccolo (deputising as first / second flute – or joining the percussion section when required).
I’ve also had an association with the Brook Concert Orchestra for many years, assisting with the flute or percussion section from time to time, and occasionally deputising in the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra (flute). The UCL CMC does not have an orchestra but scratch orchestras are formed to cater for various concerts, so I’ve been involved in small orchestras, chamber groups and many different ensembles playing flute and baroque flute.
In October 2017 I played Flute (II) & Piccolo in a semi-staged performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, a charity concert to raise funds for the Heart of Kent Hospice in Maidstone, Kent.
Having been taught by Karen Brown since the age of 8 she and I have collaborated on many occasions. From time to time Karen invites me to feature in her regular recitals, usually playing duets, but occasionally we perform as Quicksilver – a flute trio / quartet that I’ve been part of for 20+ years.
Occasionally there is an opportunity to play in an ensemble at a UCL CMC concert, and in December 2017 at the Christmas concert I enjoyed performing (on flute) the Telemann Concerto in E minor for flute, recorder and strings. I will be taking part in the premier of Roger Beeson’s new work, playing the flute in The Oxen for choir, flute, clarinet and cello at the year’s Christmas concert.
I’m also a founder member of a flute trio, Trio Concorde, who mostly play for fun.
I took up percussion at school and in two years passed Grade 6 with distinction. Percussion remains my second instrument and has allowed me to take part in interesting pieces that I would not have otherwise experienced. Two such pieces were African Sanctus by David Fanshaw (at school) and The Lamentations of Thel by Dmitri Smirnov (at University).
These days I bolster various percussion sections, and amongst other more serious pieces enjoyed playing bells in an OBOS performance of Sleigh Ride – which was repeated as an encore as the audience enjoyed it so much … I had aching arms by the end of it!
Preferring to sing in harmony as an alto, I don’t sing solo in public and got nervous when I had a solo of one note in a 2016 CMC concert!
Being a music scholar at school meant I had to sing in the choir every morning at Chapel and in the service on Sundays. This gave me my love of choral singing and I currently sing in the scratch choir every year for the UCL CMC Christmas concert, and am a member of Walderslade Sings! – a local “community rock choir”.
Premiers and dedications:
In 2013 Karen Brown and I were invited to play alto flute for Louise Denny at her premier of Danse des Inconne for orchestra, at the Hastings International Composers Festival.
At a CMC concert in 2012 I performed the premier of Evening for flute with piano accompaniment by Vernon Skinner – the recording can be heard on my SoundCloud page.
As well as being featured in The Lawrentian magazine at school, Kent Life and the BBC’s internal publication Ariel, I was recently interviewed and appeared in the UCL Chamber Music Club Newsletter (No.9) in October 2017.
During my career break in 2017 I volunteered with a Performing Arts programme in the Galapagos islands, read my Volunteer Story to hear all about it!
My first festival experience was at the age of 9, where I received a merit in the woodwind solo (up to Grade 4) class, and came first the following year in the Grade 5 class with distinction. I was active in my local festival up until the early 2000’s winning and placing in classes for solo flute as well as flute duet and flute trio. After this time I became involved on the Committee, and held the position of Treasurer for a number of years.
One memorable event was with Karen Brown performing Franz Doppler’s Andante and Rondo in the open duet class, which we won, and then won the overall trophy for our performance in the evening concert. All British Federation festivals were asked to nominate an entry to take part in a millennium festival in Leeds Town Hall so we were nominated, and performed the same piece later that year (2000).
As well as the flute I competed in a one-time venture on the piano with a school friend, winning a piano duet class with distinction playing a very energetic and enjoyable Rhumba! I also assisted a college friend in an adult accompaniment class in the Kent Festival and we were awarded first place.
Over the years I’ve played at a selection of weddings and events. Some of the venues have been interesting (and spooky!) – the tunnels under Fort Amherst in Kent, historical – Cooling Castle in Kent, and prestigious – BBC Television Centre in London, as part of the BBC’s Music Live event in 2000 where my pianist and I were featured on the front cover of the BBC’s internal newspaper Ariel to promote the event.
Back in the late 90’s I taught music for a short time at secondary school level and undertook peripatetic and private 1:1 teaching at the same time. Having concentrated mainly on performing since then, I’m keen to move back into teaching. While doing my Masters I enjoyed giving talks in primary schools on different musical themes and this is something I’d like to pursue again in the future to combine with my travel lectures I’ve started to present.
Involvement in Clubs & Societies:
Since my university days I’ve held various positions on musical committees. As mentioned above I was the Treasurer of the Medway Festival for some years, and was Chair of the UCL CMC between 2010-2013.
I’m currently the Treasurer of both the UCL CMC and OBOS.
These days most of the concerts I organise are part of the CMC concert series. To date the concerts have been diverse, yet encompassing: Myths & Legends (2010), From Cornysh to Clarke: A brief history of the flute (2011), A concert to celebrate World Music (2013), From sunrise to sunset: an exploration in music (2014), Explorations in sound (2016).
Masterclasses and courses:
Whilst at St Lawrence College Trevor Wye visited to give a lecture-recital in 1991, and I was fortunate enough to receive an excellent masterclass from him. During this time I was also very excited to receive a master class from Lady Jeanne Galway (wife of the famous Sir James Galway) at a Flutewise event in the Barbican, London.
My ethos is one of continuous self improvement and I try to learn wherever possible. Since 2009 I’ve enjoyed participating in a number of flute courses and undertaken masterclasses with current leading UK flautists such as Claire Southworth, Ian Clarke, Ian Mullin and Chris Hankin.
Links: British Federation, City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, Chris Hankin, Claire Southworth, Cooling Castle, David Fanshaw, Dmitri Smirnov, Faversham Music Club, Flutewise, Fort Amherst, Ian Clarke, Ian Mullin, Karen Brown, Kent Life magazine, Lady Jeanne Galway, Medway Festival, Old Barn Orchestral Society, Sir James Galway, St Gregory’s Centre for Music, The Marlowe Singers, The Society of Recorder Players, Trevor Wye, UCL Chamber Music Club, Walderslade Sings!