RPS Composer 2019 | £2,500 commission for Music in the Round, Sheffield in 2020
With live concert restrictions in place, we are thrilled to share below Music in the Round and Ensemble 360's exclusive online premiere of Peter Wilson's RPS commission - Piano Quintet. Introduced by Peter himself, the performance is followed by a conversation between him, BBC Radio 3's Tom McKinney, and cellist Gemma Rosefield and violinist Benjamin Nabarro from Ensemble 360 about the making of the piece. Click below to watch.
You can also find Peter's programme note for Piano Quintet as well as his biography below the video.
‘Piano Quintet’ began life as a deep-sea dive into nostalgia. Musical themes circle round and round like an old memory, always shifting but never developing.
Movement One is like the warped recollection of a Schubert song - its details smudged into a warm, happy mess. The piano takes a concerto role here, almost oblivious to the uncoordinated crooning of the four strings players. Movement Two takes the idea of repetition more literally. It is built from a series of short phrases that echo and decay, as though performed in a cavernous space. In Movement Three, an old folk melody itches to sing out, but can’t quite find the right rhythm. All three movements end somewhat abruptly, like the edge of a fading memory.
I like to think that listening to ‘Piano Quintet’ is like taking a short drive down a long country lane.
It is sunrise. Your car is humming gently: a lone traveller at this time of day. A picket fence gallops into the horizon, animated into dots and dashes. Beyond: endless variations on grey and green. Here, a herd of cows graze peacefully. There, a row of majestic oaks stand strong and tall. Are they the same oaks you saw earlier? Is it possible you are driving in circles? As the road veers leftward, the sun catches anew on the picket fence, casting an oblique shadow across your path. More cows, more oaks. But the sun is a little brighter and you can see their colours more clearly. Where were you going anyway?
© Peter Wilson
Peter Wilson is an ex-dancer turned composer, based in London. After graduating from The Australian Ballet School with distinction in 2010, he made a sideways shuffle into music: eventually studying at Guildhall and the Royal College of Music. He now works in a variety of mediums, primarily composing music for concert hall, theatre, film, and dance.
As a composer for concert hall, Peter has worked with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Loré Lixenberg, Ligeti Quartet, Norrbotten NEO and Gildas Quartet. His music has been recorded and released by NMC Recordings.
He was described recently as “having a willingness to engage in small, strange details” - a diagnosis Peter quite enjoyed.
As a composer for theatre, his work has been heard in many of London’s major theatres. He has been involved in productions at the National Theatre, Donmar Warehouse, Soho Theatre, RADA, The Bunker, and VAULT Theatre, among other venues. In 2017, he was nominated for an Off-West End Award (‘Offie’) for Best Sound. More recently, he won an Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre’ as one of the creatives on ‘Flesh and Bone’ (Soho Theatre, 2018).
A few months ago, Peter’s world exploded when he plunged into the infinite whirlpool of electronic music. This is a new area of interest for Peter, and he intends to explore it more thoroughly over the coming months and years.