Early Days

John was born in 1968 in Keighley, West Yorkshire to a Latvian mother (a refugee from the war) and a characterful explorer father from Yorkshire. Dad left early in John’s life which forced him to create his own life for himself, in music.

At the age of ten John started to play cornet, flugel horn then, within a year, his great love the euphonium which came to dominate the rest of his life.

He started in Keighley Band, at the age of 15 moving to Skipton on solo euphonium who were swiftly promoted to the championship section from the second within 2 years. Around this time he took brass lessons with Roy Curran and Bob Childs, who worked him really hard, which he loved. He started his working life in an outward bound shop, spending his spare time in the hills and at band concerts. He went on to study a foundation course at Huddersfield Technical College where he got a grounding in music theory (grade 8) and lessons with Nick Childs. Amongst other things he was a “bottle dancer” in “Fiddler on the Roof”. He listened to LOTS of music, mainly classical and brass band. He spent 2 years in Sellers Engineering Band under Philip McCann, being the first second section band to perform in the British Open Brass Band Championships, invited by the great Harry Mortimer, a huge accolade for a young player still in his teens.

During this time his 23 year-old sister, Sandra, died of brain cancer and during her illness she told him that whatever he did he had to do it really well and enjoy it. This gave him the focus and passion to follow his dreams for decades to come, and still does.

At the end of this course he moved to CWS Glasgow Band as principal euphonium, conducted by Howard Snell. They were recent European Champions and went on to win all the contests in Scotland and undertook a powerful performance of English Heritage by George Lloyd at the Royal Albert Hall in London and beat all the best bands in Great Britain winning the National Finals of the championship section. He won the Scottish and British Open Quartet Championships along with other solo competitions, inspiring him in a lifelong passion of chamber music.

In 1990 he went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music. He had the time of his life absorbing the wonderful experience of studying in one of the best music conservatoires in the world. He learned how to play to a professional level and gained the highest honours. He played with and listened to some of the best musicians internationally, in every field, opera, orchestra, jazz, contemporary music, band and chamber ensemble. The high point of this was being the tenor tuba soloist in the immense 7th Symphony by Mahler.
The Euphonium virtuoso Steven Mead became his teacher and John is grateful for his contribution to his skill and development.

In 1991 he co-founded the internationally renowned tuba quartet Tubalaté, an exciting career beckoned.