1. How and when did you get interested in composing?
At age 15 with Archie Potter at the suggestion of Annette Perry (a pupil of John Larchet), my theory teacher at the Royal Irish Academy of Music.
2. Is composing your 'day job' or do you do something else as well?
I'm a lecturer in piano (past 23 years) at the Cork School of Music and also a concert pianist.
3. Where do you mostly get your ideas?
From poetry, religion, nature and inspiration.
4. What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished a piano piece for the next AXA Dublin International Piano Competition in 2006.
5. Describe your typical working day.
Up between 7.00 am and 8.00 am; practise piano and compose in the morning; teach in the afternoon; concert -- and theatre-going in the evening; almost daily Mass; socialising.
6. What is it like hearing a new piece played for the first time?
Exciting -- something special particularly about vocal work.
7. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Hearing the first performance of my opera, Judith and Holofernes and my first orchestral piece.
8. What has been the lowlight of your career so far?
Ill health in the 1980s.
9. What is your greatest ambition?
Health in mind and body and continued creativity.
10. Which musician in history do you most admire and why?
Messiaen: I admire his ardent faith; his struggles during the Second World War; and his ecstatic music.
11. Which present-day musician do you most admire and why?
Maxim Vengerov and Evgeny Kissin because of their genius and gypsy spirit.
12. Which period of history would you most like to have lived in and why?
This one because of opportunities, technology and travel.
13. What is the best thing about being a composer?
Freedom of expression.
14. What is the worst thing about being a composer?
Lack of commissions.
15. If you weren't a composer, what other career might you have chosen?
Priest, athlete, dancer or painter.
16. What is your concept of heaven?
Peace, joy, balance, understanding, acceptance.
17. What is your concept of hell?
Lack of the above.
18. What is your favourite food?
I love food: Italian, good Irish, French, particularly fish and chicken.
19. If someone gave you three months off with unlimited travel and living expenses, what would you do?
Go studying and travelling; retreat to a monastery; write music.
20. If you could have one thing in the world that would really help you as a composer, what would it be?