My earliest interaction with music that I can remember is being around age four and watching my hometown’s brass band processing through the streets as part of the traditional springtime festival called Flora Day. Even at this early age I was drawn to the sounds of the drums in the band, probably because they were the loudest! The following year a family member who knew someone in the band arranged for me to have a go on one of the drums. However, when faced with the towering presence of a bass drum, I found it all a bit much and elected to just stand and stare at it in awe.
Fast-forwarding to secondary school - by which time I had successfully conquered my paralysing fear of large drums - I became a member of all the school and county youth ensembles that I could, including the orchestra, wind band, brass band, big bands and percussion ensembles. During this time I became particularly interested in jazz, and additionally spent a lot of time performing in pits for local shows and musicals.
In 2013 I made the move to London and started studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD), where I stayed for five years completing both my undergraduate and master’s degrees. My favourite memories of my time at GSMD include performing alongside the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle in performances of Sibelius’s Symphony No.2 and Peter Maxwell Davies’ final work, The Hogboon. Additionally, I received the opportunity to work with some of my favourite composers such as John Adams, Graham Fitkin and Steve Reich, including a performance of Drumming and Clapping Music live on BBC Radio 3 at the Southbank Centre.
Outside of GSMD, in 2015 I was the soloist in the world premiere of a new percussion concerto, Neon Numbers by Ben Comeau. In 2017 I was lucky enough to gain a place on the London Symphony Orchestra’s Timpani and Percussion Academy, and in 2018 took part in the London Sinfonietta Academy. I also work as a freelancer with a number of orchestras both in the UK and abroad, in addition to working in theatre, such as with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
If you could reinvent the way we experience classical music, what would you change?
I think it’s about exposing audiences to music they’ve not heard before, and in contexts they’re not used to. I think creative programming is a really simple way to do this: I don’t see why you can’t have a programme of Perotin followed by Boulez, with a Brahms symphony in the second half. To take it step further, perhaps out of the comfort zone, why can’t a string quartet be the support act for a pop or rock band?
What do you do with your time when you’re not playing music?
Most of my free time is spent listening to music that is new to me, but I am also interested in the visual arts. I follow motorsport avidly and am a Manchester United supporter too.