Born in the UK, I had decided in all the infinite wisdom I’d gained at the age of nine that I was going to be a French horn player, because it looked beautiful and sounded beautiful.
My Father was a professional brass musician, my brother played the trombone. All I needed was a shiny French horn to complete the trio. My Dad had other ideas and for three good reasons:
Violin players get most of the fabulous tunes.
Violins are made of wood and are beautiful.
Violins are easier to carry than tubas.
Turns out my Father was right. I was hooked.
Mr Fisher, one of my first wonderful teachers was a giant of a man with a broad smile. He enjoyed combining his two loves - music and food. “Legato bow stroke - imagine you are spreading butter on toast!” or “Vibrato tomato! Don’t get slower! Keep it simmering!”
Not surprisingly when dear Mr Fisher did retire he opened a very successful restaurant in Cornwall.
I went on to study with Denis East at Trinity College in London. I loved his lessons even though they were always slightly tense because he created a weekly fire hazard in the practise rooms. I lost count the amount of times he’d set the waste paper bin on fire by lobbing his still lit cigar into it. I had enormous respect for Denis, both as a player and person. He was a prisoner of war in Japan and had entertained the troops by playing his violin. I always felt a bit intimidated by him but he was always kind and encouraging.
After I finished college I started freelancing and still remember clearly the first rehearsal I did with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. The opening bars of Symphony No.1 by one of my favourite composers, Brahms, was like a huge wall of sound which was so exciting. I often wish our audiences could come and sit right in the middle of the stage when we’re all playing. Not practical I know- but it is truly an amazing feeling!
Around that time I worked in a chamber ensemble in a beautiful town near Salzburg called Bad Reichenhall. The travel bug hit and I auditioned for various small touring Orchestras. It was a great way to see Europe and to experience how different Orchestras can be!
After another stint in London I successfully auditioned for a post with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia and spent four years touring the UK and freelancing with different Orchestras and chamber ensembles.
I particularly loved the Covent Garden season during the Christmas period - wrestling with the snow to get to work and playing the Nutcracker to full and appreciative audiences.
In the late 1990s I came to visit my sister in Perth who had also developed the travel bug and had taken a nursing post at Mounts Bay Hospital. She took me to see WASO play at the Quarry Amphitheatre and whilst Alan Meyer performed Mozart’s clarinet concerto (another personal favourite), I remember thinking not only what a great sounding Orchestra Perth had, but what a fabulous place to live in !
2018 marks my twenty-second year with the Orchestra and I continue to feel incredibly privileged to be a part of such a wonderful company. Over the years I’ve heard some truly beautiful playing from visiting artists as well as my colleagues. I’ve made fabulous friends and hugely appreciate the support that our wonderful audiences have given us.
Highlights from my time with WASO include working with Pinchas Zukerman, Vladimir Ashkenazy and Lynn Harrell; Playing next to Semra Lee-Smith and feeling her happiness as her brother Shaun Lee-Chen won the Young Performers Award in 2007; Playing in WASO’s Rusty Orchestra program with my stand partner’s exhilaration at performing in Perth Concert Hall; Playing on Cable Beach in Broome.
In addition to my work as a musician, I love training dogs, cooking, reading and language.