As a teenager, I was allowed to take up the violin as a second instrument with free lessons thanks to the generosity of Hampshire County Council and the persistence of my school music teacher. After a couple of years, he persuaded me to take up the viola due to a dire shortage in the school orchestra and my big hands. When I discovered that viola parts are generally a lot easier than violin ones and that there were far fewer exposed and stressful passages to play, I needed no further encouragement. I was finally lucky enough to have a year with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra when it was considered to be one of the best of its kind in the land. As well as a memorable tour of the Mid-west states of the USA, I experienced playing the music of Ron Goodwin (633 squadron, Those magnificent men in their flying machines, etc) under his baton and also enjoyed a rehearsal with “This young student who wants to practice his conducting”- called Simon Rattle.
On leaving school my interest in science won out over my interest in music and I went up to Oxford to do a degree in Biochemistry, followed by a PGCE year at Bristol University. Although I would have loved to stay in Bristol, fate brought me to the dark, satanic mills of Wolverhampton where I took my first teaching job at Highfields School in Penn Fields. For a while, I had little time for music but eventually I joined the Wombourne Choral Society and had a few happy years singing with them under the direction of Denis Powell. Eventually I was persuaded by Ian Harrold (music teacher at Highfields) to get the viola out of the case again to play in the school orchestra and his ‘Pennine Spring Music’ festival and finally I was brave enough to join WSO in 1995, making my first appearance in the November concert. Michael Darke was the conductor, leading us in some wonderful music, notably Rachmaninov 2 which is still probably my favourite symphony, although too emotional to listen to frequently all the way through. Michael was also kind and brave enough, to take on the first performance of my ‘Suite for Orchestra’
In 2002 I moved out to Telford and said goodbye to the orchestra for a while, playing with the Ludlow and Telford orchestras, taking on the role of conductor for a few years. Eventually however I returned to the viola section when I had a little more free time. The thing I love about the orchestra, apart from the privilege of playing with a group of very fine musicians, is that we tackle ambitious and lesser-known works as well as the standard repertoire.
Composition is something I have been interested in since I was a child, having pieces performed by the school choir as well as playing piano compositions in concerts. WSO along with other local groups such as Ludlow and Telford Orchestras have been very important to me more recently in providing performance opportunities. WSO has premiered two of my compositions and provided four concert performances. Martin Outram playing my ‘Landscape for viola and string orchestra’ in a competition organised by the Oare String Orchestra in Kent has to be one of my high spots, especially as I won a prize.