What inspired you to take up the oboe?
I played various wind instruments as a child; recorders, melodica, ocarina, and sang in the school choir, regular visits to see the CBSO when we sat behind the orchestra was enough to make me want to take up an orchestral instrument. The french horn section were a particular favourite to sit near.
Have you always wanted to play in an orchestra?
My father's passion for opera and mother's listening to BBC Radio 3 meant that my head was already filled with classical music. It was only after taking up the oboe, seeing Leon Goossens perform the Vaughan Williams concerto in 1970, and becoming aware of the many famous orchestras and their musicians that I wanted to follow that career path.
When did you join the BSO?
March 1st 1988.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the extraordinary adrenalin from live performance, working every day with the world's finest conductors who tell us to rub out what the last one told us to write in! But interpretation is everything, and no performance is the same; in live performance, variety really is the spice of life!
What are the challenges of playing the oboe?
The oboe is the most fickle mistress of all the instruments in an orchestra. It requires an extraordinary amount of constant air pressure to play, whilst it's narrow conical bore ensures that condensation will more readily accumulate within the keys causing endless woe. The reed is the bane of all oboists’ lives and causes an inconceivable amount of stress because after hours making one that is 'good', a reed can let you down without notice!
Name a musical personality living or dead you would most like to meet?
I think it would have to be Mahler as his music has always been of interest and a source of inspiration. To have worked in Vienna when he conducted must have been an extraordinary time for those musicians, most of us will never have an experience remotely close to that.
Which piece of music would you take to a desert island?
Das Lied Von Der Erde has been a favourite work since I heard the famous recording, thirty years ago, of the Philharmonia and New Philharmonia with Otto Klemperer conductor and soloists Christa Ludwig and Fritz Wunderlich. The voices are wonderful, the clarity of Wunderlich's voice a revelation, the interpretation excellent and the playing, although dated, is so characterful in a way conductors wouldn't let us play these days.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Working with maestro Kees Bakels is always a highlight. Performances of Strauss' Aus Italien, and Don Quixote with Paul Tortelier as soloist, Puccini Tosca, Mahler Resurrection Symphony, all the Vaughan Williams recordings for Naxos. The list is long and distinguished, I learn new things every time Kees visits, and his professionalism and enthusiasm, meticulous attention to detail, love of music and unique relationship with the orchestra, is something to be treasured by player and audience alike.
What was your earliest musical experience?
It was definitely an ostinato rhythmic feature that went on for about nine months. It went something like......Bump Boom, Bump Boom, Bump Boom, Bump Boom etc...