John was born in 1942 in Nantwich, Cheshire and at the age of 6 moved to Shelf, near Bradford. After attending Bradford Grammar School, he read Physics at Magdalen College Oxford, and remained at Oxford after graduation to work for a D.Phil. He was subsequently appointed as a Postgraduate Researcher at the University of Sheffield and then moved to Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic (later to become the University of Northumbria) to become a lecturer in Physics. He took early retirement in 1997 and was made an Honorary Research Fellow. He married Carolyn in 1968 and they have two children Rachel (b 1972) and Nicholas (b 1976).
A basic knowledge of musical notation was picked up whilst a member of a church choir, but it was not until a lunchtime concert given by the Halle orchestra, when he was 14, that John heard an orchestra live for the first time. For some unknown reason this event triggered off a strong desire to write music, a desire he has been unable to shake off ever since. Given a recorder by an aunt at the age of 12 or so, this remained his only ‘instrument’ for some time until he taught himself to play first the flute and then later on the oboe.
Although initially self taught as far as composition is concerned, between 1994 to 2005 John attended composition classes at COMA (Contemporary Music for All) summer schools given by Michael Parsons, Diana Burrell, Daryl Runswick, Michael Finnissy, Stephen Montague, Deirdre Gribbin and John Woolrich. In December 2001 after two years part time study at the University of Newcastle he was awarded the degree of MMus (composition). His composition tutors during this time were Agustin Fernandez and Deirdre Gribbin.
John’s early association with the recorder playing fraternity has led to a significant proportion of his compositions involving this instrument. He is currently chairman of the Newcastle branch of the Society of Recorder Players (SRP) and is on the panel of visiting conductors for the SRP
John is strongly committed to the idea that contemporary music should not be the exclusive domain of highly skilled professional performers and that it should be possible to develop a repertoire which enables the amateur to take part but without the feeling that he is being ‘written down to’.