I am a British composer particularly active in the field of organ and sacred choral
music but my commissioned pieces also include orchestral, ballet and piano music.
Among my bigger works are a violin concerto and two symphonies; the first symphony
was commissioned for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. There are audio clips of various
of my compositions on soundcloud.
I am also an organist - currently Director of Music at St Mary’s, Woodford in London
- and a freelance teacher (mainly for the RCO Academy Organ School).
My main musical mentors in composition were Howard Ferguson and Margaret Hubicki.
Having started composing as a fairly small child, my music first came before the
wider musical world when the CD of my Lament for Bosnia (FCC 0001) was top of the
classical charts in Tower Records for several weeks, and it is still my most performed
and broadcast work, including several airings on the BBC and Classic FM. Particularly
memorable for me was conducting Lament with the Strings of the Royal Academy of Music
and with the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra. Since Lament I have been fortunate
that one composing opportunity has led to another.
My First Symphony was commissioned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
and performed in the main concert season of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the
Royal Albert Hall, conducted by Vernon Handley and broadcast on Classic FM. My Second
Symphony and Violin Concerto were both performed on separate occasions at St John’s,
Smith Square. A ballet, Alice, was commissioned by the Stadttheater in Giessen,
Germany, and has received many performances. Missa Pacis, an orchestral and choral
mass, was commissioned for the Brompton Oratory, London. Top of the Morning for
flute and piano (in Flute Time Pieces 1) was published by OUP. Bagatelle for piano,
played by Mark Tanner, was released on the Priory Label in 2009, as was a choral
work Come to your heaven, you heavenly choirs on the same label in 2012. Please see
the Catalogue page for further details about my music.
I was born in Birmingham, the only child of my British-born father and my mother
who came to the UK as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. I was a chorister at Southwell
Minster, where I studied the organ under Kenneth Beard. At Chetham’s School of Music,
I studied the organ with Derrick Cantrell and became Head Boy. As Organ Scholar
of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, my Director of Studies was Peter le Huray and
I studied the organ with Peter Hurford. Thanks to my good teachers I was lucky
to become an Associate of the Royal College of Organists at sixteen, winning five
prizes, later winning a further three prizes when I became a Fellow. My occasional
organ recitals have been in churches, cathedrals and college chapels, including
King’s College, Cambridge. I have held various church-music appointments, and became
Director of Music at St Mary’s, Woodford in London in 2011.
Hoping to deepen my composing technique, I decided to make a study of Anton Bruckner’s
mammoth musical apprenticeship with Simon Sechter and its influence on Bruckner’s
Music. The research was awarded a PhD from Manchester University and was subsequently
published as a book: Simon Sechter’s Fundamental-Bass Theory and Its Influence
on the Music of Anton Bruckner(Edwin Mellen Press, 2009). As a fledgling musicologist
hunting in Vienna I stumbled upon a clue to some overlooked contemporary reminiscences
about Schubert giving, for instance, Schubert’s only recorded opinions about Bach;
co-authored with the Schubert expert Rita Steblin, these memoirs were published as
‘Studying with Sechter: Newly Recovered Reminiscences about Schubert by his Forgotten
Friend, the Composer Joseph Lanz’, Music & Letters, 88 (May 2007), 226-65.
My piano teaching led to the invention of Scale Shapesusing the ‘Stocken Method’,
published in five volumes by Chester Music, which is now in its third revised edition.
It is a diagrammatic method for learning scales, which, although conceived in a moment,
has had surprising international popularity. Examining for the Associated Board of
the Royal Schools of Music has taken me to many countries, especially in south-east
Asia. I am also a diploma examiner for the ABRSM and a trainer of examiners.
Today I live in Poplar in East London, in the shadow of Canary Wharf, combining composition
with organ playing and freelance teaching, mainly for RCO Academy Organ School.