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A few weeks back, as we were beginning to emerge from lockdown, I was invited onto the Best of Belfast podcast by host Matthew Thompson. When I get the chance to talk about both music and Belfast there is no stopping me, and Matthew’s questions brought up memories growing up in Northern Ireland.

I attended the City of Belfast School of Music, and my clarinet tutor Arthur Acheson was a huge influence on me. There I met musicians from all over Belfast, played in the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra, Stage Band and formed a saxophone quartet: Saxophone Madness. We would busk in Belfast city centre and our most successful time of the year was always Christmas. We started getting booked for weddings, restaurant openings and even an arts festival. It was the first time I had earned money from music and beginnings of my life in music.
Myself, Jonathan Halton, Drew Leckie & Brian Lightowler busking outside Marks & Spencer in Belfast in 1985
(Other members of the quartet were Christine Bell and Dorothy Gates)
Matthew asked me how I started as a composer and about my journey to earning a living from music, which was a struggle in the early days.
I also talked about my career highlights including meeting Professor Stephen Hawking while working on the Soundtrack to the Discovery Channel’s Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking.
At the Royal Society in London for the press launch of ‘Into The Universe with Stephen Hawking’ (2010). Myself, Ben Bowie (Exec Producer Darlow Smithson), Susan Winslow (Discovery Channel) and Professor Stephen Hawking.
Fast forward to today and my most recent soundtrack to the BBC NI series Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History has brought me back to Northern Ireland and the city that I grew up in. It is fantastic to see such a vibrant thriving city with growing creative industries in film/tv and music.


Favourite Belfast coffee shop: Root & Branch at Ormeau Baths.