I am originally from Oxford, where I was born in 1974; but I spent much of my childhood in Texas. I come from a family of jazz musicians (on both sides), and received most of my early musical training on the piano (my first instrument) from my grandfather, a jazz guitarist, pianist, trumpeter and arranger. He inspired in me a love for classical music as well as jazz, and instilled the importance of being able to work both by ear and through notation: the two most essential skills to becoming a composer. I moved to Texas in 1984 (where, amongst other things, I learnt to play trombone in a high-school marching band) and returned to the UK in 1989, completing my secondary education in Oxfordshire. I have lived most of my adult life in Manchester.
I read for a BMus and then an MMus in Music at the University of Exeter (1992-1995, and 1995-1996 respectively). It was at Exeter that I first met and studied with Philip Grange (now a colleague at Manchester). In 1994 I attended the Hoy Composer course where I had the opportunity to work with Peter Maxwell Davies, which had a profound and lasting impact on my compositional thinking.
From 1996-1998 I held the position of Composer Fellow with the Halle Orchestra, which is when I first came to Manchester. I immediately fell in love with, what I believe to be, one of the greatest cultural and musical cities in the world. Working with the Halle's outstanding musicians on a daily basis was a formative opportunity for me, both in writing music for the orchestra and in delivering education projects in schools around Manchester.
I read for a PhD in Music at the University of York (1998-2002) studying with Roger Marsh and David Blake; and from 2001-2002 I held a Finnish Government (CIMO) Scholarship to study composition with Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.
I came back to Manchester in 2002, when I began teaching Music at the University. I held an AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts here (for my project Confronting the Contemporary Piano) from 2004-2007. I was appointed Lecturer in Composition in 2007, Senior Lecturer in 2012 and Professor of Music in 2016.
RMA Council, The Royal Musical AssociationSep 2019
External Examiner (PhD), University of York2015
External Examiner (Masters in Music), King's College London (University of London)2014
External Examiner (PhD), King's College London (University of London)2014
Consultant on revision of Music A-level, AQA Education2013
External Examiner (PhD), University of York2013