John has enjoyed a successful career in music and education whilst continuing to teach violin and classical guitar and performing professionally as a singer and as an instrumentalist. He was formerly County Music Adviser for Cleveland; Head of the County Music Service, West Sussex; Regional Director of Music, Berkshire; and Director of Music and Performing Arts, St Aidan’s School, Harrogate. John studied classical guitar with John Williams and Julian Bream after gaining an MA and Performer Diplomas in both violin and classical guitar.
Since 1997 John has developed his music/education consultancy and has enjoyed a wide range of activities, including: consultant for The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain; Course Leader and Mentor for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music Professional Development programme; Ofsted Inspector and currently Lecturer in Primary Music Education, Durham University.
His principal interest remains that of developing and extending choral music and encouraging young people to discover the joy of singing. Recognising the wealth of talent in the Tees Valley, in 1993 he created the Cleveland Boys’ Choir, which secured a fine reputation very quickly. Indeed, it can still be heard on CD, in a 1996 Naxos recording of Carl Menotti’s opera Martin’s Lie, with the Northern Sinfonia directed by Richard Hickox. He established the Tees Valley Youth Choir in 1992. The choir gained national and international recognition for its quality of performance and performed in some of the finest venues in Europe, including St Mark's Basilica, Venice; the Basilica at Esztergom in Hungary; and the Royal Albert Hall in London. The choir was runner-up in the 2006 BBC Choir of the Year and gave the premiere North of England performance of Howard Goodall’s Requiem, Eternal Light, with Ballet Rambert. In the final concert before he relinquished the choir in 2010, Tees Valley Youth Choir performed Messiah complete.
During the past decade John has initiated two other choirs: Locomotion, a Darlington-based boys’ choir, and Vox, a choir for young adults based in the Teesside area. Both choirs continue to thrive. In October 2010 he founded the North East Youth Chorale, which aims to offer young adults from across the region high-quality choral training and performance opportunities. In October 2012 John’s opera for young people, The Kingfisher’s Tale, received universal acclaim after its premiere performance.
John has been Music Director of Cleveland Philharmonic Choir since 1999. In 2006, he was invited to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in 2009 received the Mayor of Middlesbrough’s Award in recognition of his services to music regionally and nationally. John was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2011 for his services to music and to music education nationally, but particularly for his work in the North East and the Tees Valley.