Where are you from?
Sussex - around Lewes and near Glyndebourne. Although, I was born in Northampton! My family moved south when I was so young that I consider myself to be from Sussex.
Why and when did you start playing the horn?
I was just starting secondary school and my first horn teacher, Eira Owen, was part of an assembly where all the teachers demonstrated their instruments so we could sign up for lessons - she played Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter, I was hooked on the sound of the instrument immediately.
Where and with whom did you study?
I went to Cardiff University (2009-2012) to study maths and music for my undergraduate. It was there that I studied horn with Donald Clist. Donald was the reason that I became a professional horn player - his enthusiasm and passion for the instrument, coupled with his great playing and teaching, inspired me to apply for the Royal Academy of Music. It also meant that by the end of my degree I was doing far more horn playing than anything else... the Maths began to fly over my head, as I learnt to fly around things like the Farkas warm up! Thankfully I got in to the Academy, and studied for a Masters there, 2012-14.
After that whilst at the Royal Academy of Music I still remember going for my first lesson with Richard Watkins - he taught me about the importance of air and support. In that first lesson, to demonstrate this he got my lying on the floor in order to feel my chest expand. It was quite unforgettable - I felt like a tool, but it worked! I also studied with Michael Thompson, Martin Owen, Katy Woolley and natural horn with Roger Montgomery at the Academy. They all helped my create my own toolbox of technique and style, they complimented each other very well. Since studying at the Academy I have mostly been for lessons with John Ryan and Huw Evans.
Where can we see you in action outside Magnard?
I am in the process of building a freelance orchestral career in London. Highlights have included playing with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House on several occasions, the European Union Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru, Charles Hazlewood's Army of Generals and also regularly performing with the Multi Story Orchestra (including a BBC Prom in 2017). Last year I was a member of Southbank Sinfonia 2017 - it was so helpful in improving my playing and introducing us all to the right people. I have also recently been added to the extras lists for the BBC Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestras.
This week I played with Sinfonia Cymru at the beautiful Dora Stoutzker hall at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. We were recorded for BBC Radio 3 and will be played out in July 2018. Other highlights that are fast approaching are a Telemann horn concerto in Maldon (on my baroque horn! No valves but lots of fun), and performing Schubert's Auf dem Strom with Ailish Tynan and Simon Lepper at Lake District Summer Music.
What would be your Desert Island Discs?
I couldn't choose one, it would have to be three! I love opera and as a horn player Richard Strauss is my man, so Haitink's version of Der Rosenkavalier with Dresden Staatskapelle would be in. Secondly, Ella Fitzgerald's 'Gold' collection - I listen to it almost every day with breakfast, it is the perfect way to melt into the day. Finally, Rattle's Brahms cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic - compositional genius, played by wizards. Amazing stuff.
What is your lifelong dream?
To fly to the moon - I probably wouldn't need long up there, just five minutes to wander round and see what it's like.
What do you love besides music?
Funnily enough, both my answers to this kind of relate to my horn playing! I'm a keen runner and firmly believe in the need for a decent pair of lungs to play the horn. I also ran the London Marathon in 2013! I also have a keen interest in films - the cinematic use of the horn is a real inspiration, none more so than the excellent playing on big films like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
If you weren’t a professional horn player, what would you have been instead?
A mathematician. I studied music and maths for my undergraduate degree at Cardiff University, and loved the statistical and computer-based modules! It didn't help much with counting bars rest though sadly...
What’s your favourite food?
Anything Italian! Although cheese is pretty high up there too... although you'd better 'Brie' careful about getting me started on cheese puns - I've 'Gouda' lot of them, I get 'Canneloni' and like to make them up to keep me entertained...
Who is your icon?
As a horn player, I think it would be rude not to say the 20th Century British virtuoso Dennis Brain - we owe a lot to him for the way he advanced horn playing and had so many excellent composers that wrote works for him.
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