He is a composer, broadcaster and professor born in
England to a muical family where his father was the composer Lennox
Berkeley and his godfather was the composer Benjamin Britten. He started singing when he was young
and sang works written by his godfather as well as being a chorister at
He attended the Royal Academy of Music where he
studied piano, singing and composition and later, when he decided to follow
the composition side of things, he took further studies with Richard Rodney
He wrote an oboe concerto in 1977 and was recognised
that same year when he won the Guinness Prize for Composition. In 1979 he became the Scottish
Chamber Orchestra’s Associate Composer and during the 1980s he wrote
his Gregorian Variations and the oratorio Or Shall We Die?
that was written in collaboration with Ian McEwan. 1990 saw the appearance of his Gethsemani
Fragment and three years later his opera based on the childhood of
Rudyard Kipling, Baa, Baa Black Sheep, was written in collaboration
with the librettist David Malouf.
From 1995 he was the Artistic Director of the
Cheltenham International Festival and would continue in that position for
the next nine years until 2004.
His Clarinet Concerto was premiered in 1990 and the
compositions Secret Garden and The Garden of Earthly Delights
came out in 1997 and 1998 respectively. 2000 saw his opera Jane Eyre,
once again written with the libretto by David Malouf, premiered at the
In recent years he has held the position of
Composer-in-Association for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and his
commissioned Concerto for Orchestra was premiered at the Proms in
2005. His chamber opera, For
You, which was written with the librettist Ian McEwan was premiered by
Music Theatre Wales in October 2008.
As a music broadcaster for television and radio he
currently hosts Private Passions on BBC Radio 3. He and his family currently reside
in both Wales and London and outside of working in a broadcasting studio or
writing his own works he holds the position of Chairman of the Governors of
the Royal Ballet.
He can also be found teaching students at the Royal
Welsh College of Music & Drama where he is a Visiting Professor in