What was your path into music as a young man?

I can’t really remember a life without music. From a very early age I was enlisted in my father’s choir in Edinburgh so my formative experiences were initially as a member of an Anglican church choir. It was singing, it was vocal, it was being one strand, being one line.

Donald Runnicles Donald Runnicles. Photo © Robert Catto

Of course, at that stage I was not thinking about how this might factor into my future and then when I was at school in Edinburgh I was very, very lucky to have a very enlightened music teacher who recognised certain talents in me and drew me more into the world of orchestral music and the world of opera, which led to visits to the Scottish Opera when I was 13 or 14. My training was as a concert pianist, but from a very early age didn’t feel I had either the talent nor really the myopic focus on what it takes to be a great soloist.

I dabbled in orchestral conducting with some friends at school and this all gradually came together. Every Friday night it...