Where are you from?
A little village called Brent Knoll, in gorgeous, green Somerset, south-west England.
Why and when did you start playing the clarinet?
I was eight, and I had already been studying the piano for three to four years - I'd made quite a big of progress and my piano teacher thought that the best thing for my musical development was to play an orchestral instruments, so I could play with friends, in groups, bands and learn ensemble technique and musicianship. While she was absolutely right, it didn't really turn out quite as she expected!
Where and with whom did you study?
After a few years with local teachers, I studied at Wells Cathedral School with my great mentor, Dr. Kevin Murphy, as well as Timothy Orpen, David Campbell, and Howard Klug. From there I pursued undergraduate study at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, where I carried on with David and started learning with Mark van de Wiel. After that, a year at the Royal Academy in London saw me learn with Mark, Angela Malsbury and Chi-Yu Mo, before I studied privately with Patrick Messina and Andrew Marriner upon starting my professional career.
Where can we see you in action outside Magnard?
Around and about in orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, BBC Concert Orchestra, English Symphony Orchestra and Aurora Orchestra - in recital and concerto appearances both domestically and internationally, working in education and community projects with various organisations, or in my living room.
Recording my debut disc of Brahms with pianist Somi Kim and Yoanna Prodanova, with the geniuses Andrew Keener and Oscar Torres in the booth. Probably the most intense and sublime musical experience I've ever had. A thrilling Weber Quintet with the Endellion Quartet capping off an incredible three years at Cambridge has to go on the list too - I learnt so much from them about the excitement of performing! I also think of my first Copland Concerto, at school in Wells Cathedral with all my family and friends so many years ago. I occasionally listen to the recording and still get a little teary!
What would be your Desert Island Discs?
Without a shadow of a doubt - Jessye Norman’s 1982 recording of Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Kurt Masur and the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Claudio Abbado’s Daphnis et Chloé with the London Symphony Orchestra, or Earth, Wind and Fire’s Greatest Hits.
What is your lifelong dream?
To have a dog. Not exactly possible while living a freelance life in London, but it'll happen one day. And to be able to play real jazz, instead of some knock-off Benny Goodman impression.
What do you love besides music?
I love to read, dance, eat (not cook), sit in front of various screens, and I'm an aspiring, very much work-in-progress yogi.
If you weren’t a professional clarinettist, what would you have been instead?
The boring answer would probably be a lawyer - I do like to challenge (read. argue?) and play devil's advocate. In my mind I'd love to think I'd be some kind of expert hipster mixologist, but let's face it, I'm nowhere near cool enough for that.
What’s your favourite food?
Chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate brownies, chocolate bars, chocolate ice-cream, chocolate biscuits. Chocolate on toast, chocolate milkshake, chocolate pizza, deep fried chocolate. Did I mention chocolate?
Who is your icon?
Leonard Bernstein. Charisma personified, and one of the most prodigious musical talents the world has ever seen.
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