A little recognition goes a long way in the music industry, so it came as a pleasant surprise to learn that I was named a “Great British Discovery” by Classic FM, even it comes after several decades of hard work in the music industry!
In playing ‘Lullaby’ from my album ‘The Soul Rests Eternal’, presenter Alan Titchmarsh spoke of my ability to straddle many genres — from the ‘hauntingly beautiful’ music for cello and orchestra to be found on that album, to my output of rock, pop, jazz and blues that typifies my work in writing music for advertising & tv, and my original pieces for musical theatre.
It was very generous of him to mention it, but to me it seems perfectly natural to immerse myself in many genres and styles. As a boy growing up in the 70’s I had a musical diet of my parents’ music — Country & Western and Pop: everything from Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash and Elvis through to early Stevie Wonder. Then as a teenager I discovered my own tastes: Earth, Wind & Fire, more Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald. Then, as an instrumentalist, I discovered Jazz and Big Band music. My years spent blowing down a bit of bent metal in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra gave me a profound love of Miles, Coltrane, Parker and the great bands of the swing era.
Fast forward a year or so and I was a music student at University, studying hardcore contemporary composition, and this experience gave me the tools to be able to listen to, assimilate, dissect and reconstruct pretty much any musical language — a skillset that has been incredibly useful in my working life writing music for advertising and tv.
So, when a producer or director says to me, “we want something original, but it has to be a mix of Radiohead and Mozart, but with an African Township vibe” (and, before you ask, yes, this is a direct quote from a producer) it presents me with a challenge that I love.
That said, it’s nice to be able to write original music entirely in my own voice, and my dream is that some sharp-eared advertising person will ‘discover’ ‘The Soul Rests Eternal’ and make it the music for a global brand! This is not the first time the The Soul Rests Eternal — recorded by cellist Caroline Dale with the English Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Steve Sidwell — has been honoured by radio stations. Previously it has been ‘presenter’s choice’ on BBC Radio 3, ‘Pick of the Week’ on Classic FM. As a result of the success of the album the BBC Concert Orchestra devoted a ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ broadcast to my works.