Chris Best with relatives c1965

Born in the town of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, my formative years were spent in a small outlying village. I was educated at Aylesbury Grammar School, an experience I remember mostly for my involvement in annual opera performances and music festivals. Despite my achievements, I was advised against taking A-Level music, encouraged instead to see it as a hobby, and soon found myself at University College London reading for a degree in geography. I stuck at it for a year, but felt my heart simply wasn't in it and left to do a number of office jobs while trying to find a path for myself.

At twenty-one, I decided to enroll at night school and study for A-Level music. Having attained top grades, I secured a place at Lancaster University (taking composition as a first study under Edward Cowie) from where a 1st class degree propelled me on to Churchill College Cambridge (Masters in composition and analysis under Hugh Wood) and then to Nottingham (Doctorate in composition under Nigel Osborne and James Fulkerson).

Around the time I was completing my doctorate, I fell in love with adult education work, offering music appreciation classes all over Nottinghamshire. This work was immensely enjoyable - and a great education in itself, requiring extensive reading, listening and preparation every week.

A year or so later the opportunity came up to teach BTEC and A-Level music at the Coventry Centre for the Performing Arts. Having just bought my first house, it was a steady income too good to turn down and an ideal foothold for a career in higher education. It could hardly have come at a better moment. The college was just about to move into Higher National Diplomas and staff were invited to come up with new courses and submit them for approval. I set about designing an H.N.D. in music composition, the first of its kind anywhere in the country, which was keenly accepted. In 1995 Coventry Centre For The Performing Arts was taken over by Coventry University, its H.N.D. courses converted into degrees and suddenly I found myself heading up my very own degree course.

A further career break came in 1998 when I was offered the post of director of composition at Dartington College of Arts in beautiful rural Devon, later being awarded the title 'Reader in Music Composition'. In a strange repetition of history, Dartington was merged in 2008 with University College Falmouth, finally relocating to Cornwall in September 2010. I continue in my role there as head of composition, whilst continuing to pursue my freelance composition work.