first memory: I don't want to get my poor parents into trouble, but it was the chimney catching fire while they were in the pub over the road and I was home alone aged 18 months... First musical memory was aged five, hearing a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. I was absolutely transported.
first album: An eight-track tape including Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Ronald Binge's Elizabethan Serenade. I was eight and played it until it broke. Before that, it was the Stones (mum) and the Beatles and Nana Mouskouri.
first gig: Amazing conductor with just one arm, John Railton, conducting Rossini in Hitchin, where we lived. I was nine.
first performance: I was a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral. We performed eight times a week from when I was aged 10. I remember singing the solo in the Allegri Miserere when I was 11, with super high notes, and not telling the choir master I had a hideous sore throat - he would have taken me off it!
first job: I've been self-employed since I won BBC Young Musician aged 18. My first salaried job was at Indiana University, in the US, as Professor of oboe and conducting. I have a similar job in Germany now. The structure of music teaching in those two countries is highly beneficial to students and teachers.
first love: The first thing I remember realising I couldn't live without was music. I found it made me feel electrified and alive in a way that quickly became addictive. I grew up in a household without a serious music appetite, so it was even more of a shock to discover it.
first time in leicester: As a performer in the International Music Festival, of which I am now the proud artistic director. I love bringing a super-high quality of performers to the city and we play the most riveting music, from the earliest and most beautiful pieces to the most recent and exciting, including a world premiere we commissioned and several small pieces less than a year old. No dress code, very reasonable ticket prices... COME ALONG!
info: The Leicester International Music Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It begins tomorrow with a screening of the award-winning Benjamin Britten documentary, A Time There Was, at Leicester's Phoenix cinema, with an introduction by the director, Tony Palmer.
The first concert in this year's series is staged at Holy Trinity Church on Thursday and features a programme including work by Schumann, Bach and Britten, and Nicholas Daniel performing the world premiere of British composer Huw Watkins' Callisto for oboe. ? .M: www.musicfestival.co.uk
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