Read music at the University of Leeds where he studied composition under James Brown and Philip Wilby. He played piano and trumpet from the age of six, and his developing interest in composition was combined with a catholic taste and appetite for a broad diversity of different musical genres encompassing all strands of musical style. This now has a strong bearing on his stance as a composer who believes in pulling back together the fragmentation of music to paint a broad musical picture.
His musical career began as both composer and singer. From 1987 - 89 he worked as a freelance composer for film, learning the ropes of orchestration whilst simultaneously studying singing and the Italian operatic repertoire in Bologna, Italy. He then completed the post-graduate Opera course (1990 – 93) at the Royal Academy of Music in London from which he graduated with the Joseph Maas Tenor Prize, the only student that year to be awarded the Dip. R.A.M. and a post-student fellowship. The following year he was awarded a bursary by Sir Edward Downes from the Amici di Verdi at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden to complete his singing studies for three months with Carlo Bergonzi in Busseto. Despite the beginnings of a top-flight singing career with contracts as a soloist with some of the leading opera companies, including the Royal Opera House, he turned towards composition in 1996.
Select concert works include his song-cycle Point of Entry, based on the subject of war, which was a collaboration with sculptor Bill Woodrow and poet Selima Hill, originally masterminded by and commissioned through English National Opera’s Contemporary Opera Studio and the Imperial War Museum as a cycle for baritone and piano, and featured on BBC Radios 3 and 4. In 1999 he was given a commission by the New Bristol Sinfonia to write a new work for solo violin and string orchestra entitled First Born – premiered in the Victoria Rooms, Bristol in 2000.
Sir Roger Norrington and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra commissioned him in 2003 to compose a new work for symphony orchestra to mark the conductor’s 70th birthday. Conversation with Chet for symphony orchestra and trumpet was performed with Alison Balsom as soloist, in the Liederhalle, Stuttgart and the Konzerthaus, Vienna in March 2004, and was broadcast on radio worldwide.
He has been developing a chamber opera entitled Beekeeper, which was supported in its development by the Royal Opera House Covent Garden through OperaGenesis, and for which he won an award from the Performing Right Society Foundation towards the music commission. The project will take the form of a multi-faceted opera, combining operatic forces with sparse elements of ballet and film, together with live chamber orchestra including mandolins, solo soprano saxophone, accordian, improvised piano and a more extensive sound world incorporating some cross-over into programmed use of sound effects and surround sound.
He received an award from Arts Council England towards the commission for a new string quartet in five movements for the Smith Quartet, entitled Stato d’Animo, premiered at St. Georges Brandon Hill in Bristol, then in the Aula Absidale in Bologna, Italy.
Toilers of the Elements, a new concerto for Dame Evelyn Glennie, for percussion and string orchestra was premiered to critical acclaim in 2010.
Last year he completed a new work for Wells Cathedral Choir entitled Fisher of Men, and is currently orchestrating a new re-working of Conversation with Chet for the trumpet soloist and Classical Brit winner Alison Balsom.
As a session conductor he has recorded with orchestras and musicians from the Halle, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, and Hungarian Festival Orchestra