From as far back as I can recall, I have had a deep emotional connection with music. I am lucky enough to have parents who nurtured my musical side. My mother played the piano to me from the very beginning and I had my first serious introduction to regular performance as a chorister at St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich when I was six years old. This experience was such an important part of my musical training, as the challenging repertoire we attempted rivalled many cathedral choirs at the time. After this solid foundation, I was awarded a music scholarship to Ipswich School, where I achieved grade 8 in piano, voice and French horn. I started composing during my GCSEs, during which time I wrote a fugue in C minor.
I then read economics at the University of Nottingham, but unfortunately did very little music, except that I sang in the selective Viva Voce chamber choir. However, during my last few months at university, I had some jazz piano lessons with Alex Wilson. This reawakened my love for music, as I could now code music very productively using chord symbols. I could now play most pieces I knew by ear and improvise around them with the tools I had started to learn, that I subsequently developed on my own.
After my masters degree, I returned to Ipswich on a gap year, during which time I worked in a variety of financial jobs. I began singing at St Mary-le-Tower church again, this time under Michael Nicholas. I also joined a chamber choir and a madrigal singing group. Given my new understanding of music through jazz theory, I was seeing and hearing music differently. It was during the dark months of late 2006, when five women were murdered in Ipswich, I started to write choral music. My first two efforts were "O Lorde, the maker of al thinge" and "O sacrum convivium". I showed these pieces to various people, including my current and previous choir masters. They offered me useful compositional advice and I have not stopped composing since.
Given my somewhat unusual path to composition, I believe my style is very different to most contemporary choral composers of the traditional music degree route. In particular, my penchant for jazz harmony yields some fresh textures, inspired by: Francis Poulenc, Olivier Messiaen, Alexander Scriabin, John Tavener, Arvo Pärt and John Coltrane, amongst others.
This year, 2017, approximately a decade since I started composing seriously, already promises to be the most fantastic year for me as a composer, for the following reasons:
- BBC Radio 3's In Tune programme selected my piece "O Sacrum Convivium" to be played in January 2017.
- I launched my "Internetional" Piano Competition 2017. Pianists aged 30 years and under are invited to submit a YouTube video of my latest composition: "The Emotions - Suite for Piano". The closing date for entries is Thursday 4 May 2017.
- The Joyful Company of Singers commissioned me to set "Sing unto the Lord" from Isaiah 42:10. This will be performed by them for the first time on Friday 16 June 2017 at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden. All are welcome and I hope to see you there!
- The recording of my music by Sarah MacDonald and the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College as part of their renowned single-composer disc series is due to be released in September 2017. Contact me if you would like to pre-order a copy.
Thank you for your continued support!