You had an early career as a percussionist. What led you into composition?

I’d always been interested in composition. Ever since I was at school, I wrote music, so that’s been a constant. I attended the Queensland Conservatorium from the age of 15, and studied piano and composition, and then I went to London and really I took up percussion because I wanted to learn how to write for it really well.

Richard Mills Richard Mills with Buddy. Photo © Charlie Kinross

It was in fact composition that made me take up percussion. And then I found it a fairly easy thing to do, and I got a job pretty quickly. Mind you, that wouldn’t happen today – the young players today are much better than I was! I also worked as a répétiteur in those years as well, started playing for singing lessons at the Guildhall, where I was a student, which of course had a very fine singing school, and after that worked for the Scottish Opera.

What did you learn playing with the orchestras in London?

Best music lessons I ever had in my life because we had all the great conductors coming though...

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