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.