My first contact with music came from learning the piano at the age of five. From an early age I felt I could use music to express myself and have alone time discovering and connecting with the notes in front of me. My older sister took up the oboe as her instrument of choice, and I felt very jealous that she got to play with other people in the school band. I knew I wanted to take up something a little different that no-one else around me played, and after some research on the family computer me and my sister found a video on YouTube of the Weber Bassoon Concerto. I was immediately captured by this weird and wonderful instrument with its dark rich sound.

As I continued to play into my teenage years, I was very lucky to be supported by a strong local music service who supported my development. Weekly county bassoon ensemble, concert wind band, and county symphony orchestra were places of joy and where I found my sense of belonging. This was also where I first heard the symphonic repertoire that became an obsession for me. I remember sitting in the car on the way home from rehearsal, listening to the concert rep (from Rimsky-Korsakov to Shostakovich to Respighi) on my iPod on repeat for hours after rehearsal had finished! I would buy classical CDs, vinyl records, and books about classical music from local charity shops with my pocket money, attempting to absorb as much as I could about this new world I had discovered.

This obsession took me to university to study music. My time at Cambridge opened my mind to the variety of perspectives from which we can consider music. I took a step away from classical performance by focusing on the study of popular music, philosophy, and analysis. I feel that taking this break to broaden my horizons was an important step to then returning to the classical tradition and the bassoon with a fresh perspective on the wider world of music away from the often rather rigid performance culture that classical performance presents.

Taking up study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where I learned with Meyrick Alexander and Chris Vale, allowed me to develop a closer bond with my instrument and find my first professional connections. Placements with BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Welsh National Opera were integral to understanding how to develop from a college student into a professional musician, and the set of musical and non-musical skills that that requires. This experience also allowed me to take up my first freelance work, and since enrolling at RWCMD I have taken up freelance work with Welsh National Opera, London Concert Orchestra, and Orchestra De Cymru.

For me, music is a vehicle for interconnection – performing with others is like speaking without words, and the profundity of emotion you can feel during a performance still feels as striking and fresh as when I first experienced it in my music service days. Chamber performance has thus become a huge part of my life: my work with the Bute Wind Quintet aims to bring contemporary, underperformed, and impactful music for winds to wider audiences, discovering hidden gems new to us and our audiences along the way.

Outside of music, connecting with nature and disconnecting from modern life is very important to me – recently I’ve taken up sunrise cold water swimming down at the pier in Penarth, South Wales, where I’m very lucky to live. The adrenaline rush you feel when you first manage to get fully into the water always feels like a big achievement! Visiting art galleries and museums also helps me to find sources of artistic inspiration outside of listening to music. I also love to cook and bake and explore new recipes in the kitchen (food is my second-biggest passion next to music).