What is your own musical background, and are Elgar, Delius and Vaughan Williams special passions for you?

I was lucky to have musical parents: my mother Phoebe played the piano and organ and had a lovely voice. My father Jack always regretted he had never learnt an instrument or even to read music, yet in church always picked out the right bass harmony: he never sang the tune. I learnt the piano and violin at school, and many years later took up the cello. For years I belonged to the London Symphony Chorus, which meant I learnt the big choral works inside out under some of the world’s greatest conductors, and I have always enjoyed singing in small choirs as well. I was fortunate to have a director of music at school, Donald Paine, who was passionate about English music, and he laid the foundations for my love of Elgar...

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