At the age of five, I made friends with the upright piano in our living room. That was the beginning
of my musical journey, one which continues as you read this. It would appear that my initial
progress was rapid and by the age of eight, I found myself at a boarding school for young
musicians, the Yehudi Menuhin School. During my studies there, it’s now clear to me that I was
heavily influenced by two occasional visitors to the school; Nadia Boulanger and Vlado Perlmuter.
From them, my great passion for French music was ignited and Fauré in particular has remained
the musical love of my life.
Further studies at the Royal College of Music in London then led me very abruptly into the life of a
professional musician via the Leeds International Piano Competition. It remains the steepest
learning curve I’ve ever experienced. After a rollercoaster three years, I realised that I needed to
re-connect with chamber music in a bid to feel more connected to other musicians and after all,
this had played an important part of my musical existence since being a child.
When, quite by chance, I met Yo-Yo Ma in 1978, it turned out to be one of the most fortuitous
moments of my life. Since 1985, we have enjoyed a collaboration which has taken us to so many
fascinating parts of the world and led to musical adventures with musicians who shared so much
from their own traditions. I’ve always considered us to be intrepid musical explorers on our own
individual paths but with an incredible bond that unites us on the creative highway.
Presently, I enjoy the challenge of creativity in a different way by bringing many musicians
together once a year in my role as Artistic Director of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.
My love of curating and directing began in 1995 and since then I’ve brought to life many of my
ideas in events lasting anything from long weekends to two weeks. I continue to push my capacity
for exploring music I know nothing about and love bringing together unusual combinations
There are too many highlights in my career to mention. Yes, it was a thrill to perform at the Last
Night of the Proms to millions around the world, but equally a massive thrill to have lit up twenty
small faces in an inner city school while they jumped up and down to energetic piano music!
Working with young musicians is something I feel passionate about and presently teach at the
Academy of Music in Oslo. I’ve also had some truly exciting music written for me and enjoyed a
particularly close collaboration with composer Graham Fitkin. What an unbelievable privilege it is
to be immersed in a language which has no boundaries and has allowed me to share musical
stories on a global scale; that little upright piano set me on quite a path! Talking of paths – I’ve also
been found trekking in Nepal, Costa Rica, Bhutan or walking my spaniel Archie on the Yorkshire
Moors. The journey continues.
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