I started playing the flute aged seven after seeing several school friends start to play. My dad had also played (a long time ago) and still had a flute lying in a cupboard, which I dug out and on which I quickly discovered I could make a sound. Music had always formed part of my home environment, and things progressed quite quickly from there; my parents were able to help me practise and my mum, in particular, was able to accompany me on the piano for several years, right up to the end of my grade exams – an invaluable formative experience.
Joining the Christchurch School of Music aged eight or so gave me my first taste of playing in orchestras, and over the years I moved up through the various ensembles, eventually making it to the Christchurch Youth Orchestra, and then beyond it to the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra. I loved playing in orchestras from the start; the feeling of being part of a bigger whole is something that still moves me to this day, and I’ve always thought that flute players have the best position: right in the middle!
At about this time, having left school, I started a bachelor's degree in music at the University of Canterbury. Alongside music, I also decided to take courses in psychology and philosophy, and these remain enduring interests of mine. Halfway through my university studies, I decided I needed to up the ante (as naive as my 20-year-old self was, I was aware enough to realise I was cruising through too easily), and decided to move to England to further my musical education. It seemed a mad idea at the time, but I think it’s the best decision I ever made. It took me right out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to what I could achieve if I really worked for it.
My parents always told me that playing music is a gift to others. They’re right, and in the end I think that’s what really drives me – putting in all that work and then seeing someone being moved in some way by my music, that’s a real kick!
Royal Northern College of Music
Royal Academy of Music
University of Canterbury
Christchurch, New Zealand
What do you do with your time when you’re not playing music?
I really love to read, especially science fiction. I’m a big fan of old-school sci-fi; Isaac Asimov; Ursula le Guin; Frank Herbert for example, where it’s less about hyperdrives and proton beams and more about underlying questions we have about life and what it means to be human. I’ve also recently discovered I quite enjoy going to the gym (a big surprise to me); it’s a great way to tune out while doing something for your health as a musician.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.
For a few years as a teenager, I belonged to a gliding club. I even went solo a few times!