I have been so fortunate to have met and worked with some truly great musicians who have shaped my life.
I was a founding member and Principal oboe of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for 21 memorable years. Surely one of the greatest orchestras in the world, its philosophy is simple; the joy of making music together at the highest possible level and creating life long friendships that transcend national boundaries.
There were many highlights, but some experiences stand out:
The humanity of Alexander Schneider, (violinist of the legendary Budapest String Quartet and close friend of Pablo Casals); emotionally charged concerts with Claudio Abbado, who could shape the sound of the orchestra with a gesture; the revolution of working with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and being part of a Beethoven Symphony cycle, which – it is no exaggeration – changed our perceptions of how the music of the great "Classical" composers should be performed; the warmth and complete conviction of Paavo Berglund. Performing and recording Sibelius symphonies with him, was simply being involved with a true master at work.
“I always wanted to conduct but I am glad I waited. These 21 years were the best conducting lessons I could have imagined.”
After a memorable concert with COE in Paris in 2002 with Claudio Abbado I put my oboe in its box for the last time. Watch the full video on YouTube.
My first major conducting commitment (and first love) was Manchester Camerata. I had 10 fabulous years with them as Music Director and I have nothing but admiration for their musicianship and friendship. Working on a financial shoestring, they nevertheless always perform at the highest level of commitment, energy and quality. Our Beethoven Symphony cycle is testimony to that.
My work with Camerata opened up invitations from other parts of the world. As Artistic Partner of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota for 6 years and Principal Guest Conductor of the Colorado Symphony, I have spent a lot of time making music in the US.
Conducting continues to take me to all corners of the globe, but whether I am performing in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Budapest or at home in the UK, I try to stay true to the “COE spirit” which has shaped me.
I spent 7 years as Music Director with Musikkollegium Winterthur, now one of Switzertland’s leading orchestras. It was an honour to follow in the distant footsteps of conductors such as Richard Strauss, Furtwangler and Busch, all of whom enjoyed relationships with MKW.
My main commitments now are split between opera and the concert hall. As Artistic Director of Garsington Opera, I have a wonderful opportunity to shape the future of one of the UK’s great summer opera festivals. With orchestre de chambre de Paris, I have an orchestra embracing the future on and off the stage, which has exciting partnerships with the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Philharmonie and a commitment to engage in the cultural life of Paris, in particular through innovative educational projects which reach thousands of children and adults across the Paris region.
More important than all of this – is my family, my 3 extraordinary children and my wife Sally, whose love, support and musicianship (she is a wonderful cellist) has sustained me over the years.