Andrew was born in Southport, on the Lancashire coast, in 1963. His father was a carpenter and teacher, and his mother originally trained as a classical singer – an ambition that gave way to raising four children, of which Andrew is the second eldest. He has been passionate about music from an early age, and learnt piano from 8 and flute from 13. He also sang and acted, and appeared in many school and college productions. He went on to gain his Music degree at Manchester University, and also studied piano with Derrick Wyndham and Renna Kellaway at the internationally-renowned Royal Northern College of Music between 1981 and 1984.
Andrew has had a 33-year career in music and the arts, encompassing performing, composing, arranging for the stage, teaching, musical direction, theatre management and theatre production. In recent years, he has concentrated on freelance projects: programming orchestral and recital series for major UK venues, and composing and recording his own new compositions for piano.
Despite this busy, varied and successful working life, Andrew didn’t begin composing for solo piano until the age of 50 – a mere 42 years after his very first piano lesson, on 1st June 1971. He says of this new venture: “I had done a fair amount of composing over the years, but always for stage productions, bands or vocalists. I’d never given my own instrument – the piano – any real creative attention in that way. Then, for a couple of years leading up to my fiftieth birthday, I began to feel that I had some piano compositions in me, and that I had something to say through them, but my administrative commitments just seemed to soak up all my time and attention. Only when I changed from being employed to freelance did I sit down at the keyboard and actually try to create something for solo piano. To my amazement, these 12 pieces, and more, came flowing out – very quickly! Within two months I had written the whole album.”
The Silver Dial
The Silver Dial was a story I first heard of as I was growing up, in which a young soldier goes to war, taking with him a silver pocket watch, which has the power to contain and recall twelve special memories – people, places, feelings – which the soldier knew before departing for the battlefield. After seeing a similar theme in the Doctor Who episode, Human Nature, in which The Doctor hides his Time Lord consciousness in just such a watch, I was reminded of the story and began to look for musical ways of expressing significant memories through music – and this album is the outcome.
I recorded the album in August 2015 at Potton Hall, in the picturesque and tranquil surroundings of the Suffolk countryside – on one of the most beautiful pianos I have ever played. My producer and recording engineer was Phil Hobbs, one of the country’s most in-demand classical music producers.
What we’ve ended up with in the 12 pieces which make up The Silver Dial collection remains very faithful to my original concept. That was always very important to me, and I was determined that the finished album would reflect the theme I had started out with as my inspiration. Thus, the twelve pieces blend imagined memories a WW1 soldier might carry with him on the battlefield (such as Riversong or Aurora), pieces which evoke actual experiences he might have had at the time (White Cliffs or Letter From Home) and particular memories of my own (Into The Trees or Esther’s Favourite Place) – often rural places which are special to me and my family.
This album – my first for solo piano – is incredibly special to me. It was almost three years from first sitting down at the keyboard to the day of its release. In these days when the classical music scene is more varied than ever, and a whole new audience is coming to the classical sound via a minimalist, accessible, often contemplative ethos, I have tried to write a collection of pieces that not only fit into this ethos and (hopefully) have wide appeal, but also create something a bit different – twelve pieces which evoke sights and sounds, people, places and deep emotions, and which hopefully tell a story of their own. They were loved and nurtured over those three years, and have almost become my friends. I hope they become yours too.
Thanks for listening,