“If Englishness in music can be encapsulated in words at all, those words would probably be: ostensibly familiar and commonplace, yet deep and mystical as well as lyrical, melodic, melancholic, and nostalgic yet timeless.” (Peter Ackroyd)
My catalogue is shamelessly eclectic in its mixture of styles, and yet, despite cosmopolitan influences, I think of my compositional language as intrinsically English. The kappelmeister music serves school, church and community – a wide range of pieces written over many years for enthusiastic amateurs. These pieces have mostly been composed to order for specific forces and represent my passion for serving the wider community with pieces d’occasions.
“Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.” (Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker: Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya)
My lighter music may suggest the divertimenti and serenades of a bygone age – on the surface, fun and initially shallow for some ears – but these works will frequently reveal darker shades of my complex musical personality. Dance and song are fundamental to my work at any level; melodic invention is intrinsic to my work.
“Sweetest melodies, are those by distance made more sweet.” (William Wordsworth (1770-1850) Personal Talk 1807
My more serious concert works will reveal deeper dramatic tension, lucidity of texture, disciplined technique and perhaps an underlying sadness, but all are wrapped in an exuberant lyricism. I have heeded WH Auden’s advice (‘New Year Letter’ 1940) to composers to ‘accept their loneliness and refuse all refuges, whether of tribal nationalism or airtight intellectual systems’.

“If, in the music I write, I can create a world of sound wherein some, at least, of my generation can find refreshment for the inner life, then I am doing my work properly.”
Sir Michael Tippett, Moving into Aquarius

Rather like Caliban in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Act 3 Scene 2) I relish the magical music that pervades the island on which I live:

…the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices…

I conclude by quoting Nicholas Keynon (Britten’s Century, Bloomsbury 2013):

“It is a common thread lurking somewhere in our musical psyche, as true of Elgar as it was of Britten, that emotional repression in whatever form is an enormously creative force, and indeed articulating that rather than overcoming it is a key strand in musical ‘Englishness’.”