A fantastic start

I was very fortunate in the fantastic start I was able to make in music at the first schools I attended: The Abbey, Woodbridge, followed by Orwell Park School, in Suffolk.

At both of these schools I was a chorister and had the chance to experiment with a number of instruments, the piano and clarinet becoming the ones I played most. I was also given a good grounding in the basics of composition, and enjoyed putting together a variety of pieces, some light and some more serious.

Suffolk’s musical heritage

Apart from the strong musical tradition of its schools, Suffolk offers a great musical heritage, notably in the works of Benjamin Britten, the Aldeburgh Festival which he and others founded, and the international music centre at Snape Maltings. The music seasons at Snape make use of several local venues, including some of the county’s fabulous churches. A memorable outdoor venue has been the shingle beach at Aldeburgh, where I was in the audience that saw Peter Grimes performed on an amazing set in 2013, the centenary of Britten’s birth.

On my charity trek in 2009 I was given a backstage tour at Snape, and a chapter is devoted to the Maltings in Fifty Miles with my Dad. The book also contains many references to something abundantly on offer in the great Suffolk outdoors: the chance, away from the bustle of everyday life, to hear many melodies in the sounds of Nature.  

Behind the scenes at Snape Maltings with Mr Jonathan Reekie, Director of Aldeburgh Music, October 2009

Music at Rugby

My school musical career culminated at Rugby in a wealth of blessings. Apart from a brilliant teaching staff under Richard Tanner we had inspirational surroundings in which to perform, whether as soloists or in the school’s many vocal and instrumental ensembles.  

At major choral events and concerto concerts we were accompanied by the Bliss Sinfonia, a professional orchestra comprising some of the most talented musicians from the Midlands and beyond, many of them on the school’s teaching staff.

The choir also enjoyed a variety of other performance opportunities, including trips around the UK and abroad, regular recordings for BBC Radio 4’s Daily Service and, in 2015, a role on a global stage at the Rugby World Cup.

Singing at the final of the Rugby World Cup, Twickenham, 2015

Here are links to the Requiem I composed for performance by the Rugby Choral Society and Bliss Sinfonia on Remembrance Sunday 2016; to Jubilate, a celebration of 450 years of sacred music; and to the Concerto concert at Rugby in March 2017, when I played the adagio from Mozart’s clarinet concerto.

Fifty Miles with my Dad, published by Sarnia House in April 2020, is available in bookshops (subject to coronavirus), with net proceeds in aid of the ‘Fifty Miles with my Dad’ Fund at Suffolk Community Foundation.*

*The ‘Fifty Miles with my Dad’ Fund is an endowment managed by Suffolk Community Foundation and established in 2009 by the fundraising walk described in the book of the same name. Grants are made from the income to charities and community groups supporting those with disability, the infirm and the vulnerable.