2019 marks the fifty-year anniversary of the beginning of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. To coincide with the occasion, the BBC have commissioned a new series that will air next year. Having grown up in Belfast I am honoured to have been asked to compose the music for the series.
The Belfast I grew up in was one of checkpoints, security searches and bomb warnings. But it was also an incredible city of inspiration, and my tutors at the City of Belfast School of Music fed my soul musically. In my teens, making music was my passion and among other things I had a saxophone quartet, and played alto saxophone. We did our own arrangements and would busk in the city centre at weekends to earn a bit of extra cash, and would subsequently get asked to play at weddings, festivals and restaurant openings. It funded new instruments for me, and made me think that making an income from music was a possibility. One day the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Jim Prior, was in the city centre on an official walk about and stopped and put some money into our open saxophone case. A press photographer was on hand and snapped the photo, and we made the front page of the Daily Mail.