Former chorister at King’s College Cambridge he went on to study both singing and violin at the Royal College of Music in London.
In 1981 he was invited by Claudio Abbado to lead the European Youth Orchestra, and subsequently became the first leader of the newly formed Chamber Orchestra of Europe. As a member of the Endellion Quartet from 1984, chamber music became an increasingly important music activity, and he was also active with the Raphael Ensemble.
From 1985 to 1990 he was Leader of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and from 1990 to 1998 he was Leader of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Between 1999 and 2010 he was Concertmaster of the Philharmonia Orchestra.
He was appointed Leader of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2004 and Leader of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in June 2010.