Like lots of children across the UK, I first got my hands on a musical instrument aged four in the form of an Aulos recorder; mine in particular was easily recognisable because it was covered in bite-marks! I was also fortunate enough to have a musical grandmother, who would give me piano lessons on Saturdays.
Throughout school, I loved playing in wind bands and jazz ensembles, but it wasn’t until I was 17, when I performed William Mathias’ Clarinet Concerto with orchestra in BBC Radio Shropshire Young Musician of the Year, and won, that I saw playing clarinet as a potential career. I should add, however, that for several years before this, I did have a musical career of sorts as a busker in a clarinet-ukulele duo in Shrewsbury town centre.
I moved to nearby Cardiff to study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Within a few weeks I’d joined a wind quintet and I’d played my first Beethoven Symphony, and my eyes were opened to the immense diversity of musical possibilities ahead of me as a clarinettist, not just through solo repertoire, but perhaps more importantly through chamber and orchestral music. One of my favourite memories is missing my graduation ceremony to participate in a London Sinfonietta Academy course: in a way it felt much more fitting to celebrate finishing my degree with a concert, rather than putting on a mortarboard.
I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship to move to London to study at the Royal College of Music as a postgraduate, at which point I also started to regularly engage in freelance orchestral work back in Cardiff with ensembles such as Sinfonia Cymru, Welsh Sinfonia and British Sinfonietta, so I spent a lot of time sleeping on overnight coaches going back and forth along the M4!
Since graduating from the Royal College, I have continued to work in London, but now commute in from Brighton, where I spend much of my free time running in the stunning South Downs, as well as enjoying the occasional dip in the sea.
Royal College of Music
Royal Welsh College of Music
What’s on your playlist right now?
I'm often stuck having do to lots of admin while on the train to and from work, and so far I’ve found nothing quite as effective as Brian Eno’s Ambient works to draw my focus in, so this is always near the top of my ‘recently played’. The last few weeks here in London have felt especially dark and chilly, so I’ve been listening to lots of sunny Brazilian music; my particular favourites are Joao Gilberto, Arthur Verocai and Marcos Valle.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us
When I was little, I dreamed of becoming a geologist when I grew up. Somewhere, buried deep in my
parents’ house, there’s a plastic toolbox full of rocks and fossils meticulously categorised, sorted and
labelled with bits of notepaper and sellotape. On second thoughts, this might not come as a surprise to those who know me...