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John Peterson : Represented Artist

Peterson's music generally reflects his interest in tonal idioms, as well as the energy and rhythmic propulsion inherent in many popular music styles.

Random Audio Sample: Remembering Illawarra : five pieces for piano solo by John Peterson, from the CD Narratives and detours

Photo of John Peterson

Photo: Lee Martin

Artist website: http://www.jmpeterson.com


John Peterson was born in Wollongong, NSW, in 1957 and studied composition at the University of Sydney under the guidance of Ross Edwards, Eric Gross and Peter Sculthorpe. He has Bachelor of Music (1990) and Master of Music (1994) degrees, and completed a PhD in Composition in 2003.

As a composer, Peterson has written chamber music for many ensembles including The Contemporary Singers, Sydney Mandolins, The Seymour Group, the Coruscations Ensemble, the Caringbah HS New Music Group, the Shostakovich String Quartet, and the Halcyon ensemble, but his primary compositional focus is on writing music for the orchestra. His orchestral works have been performed and/or recorded by the numerous orchestras across Australia and New Zealand.

In 1992, Peterson was a finalist in the Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition, and was a finalist in the Corbould Orchestral Composition Competition in 1995 and 2000. On two occasions, (1997 and 2001), he was shortlisted for 'Masterprize', an international competition run jointly by BBC Music Magazine and the London Symphony Orchestra. The orchestral works selected for this competition, Rituals inTransfigured Time (1997) and Illawarra Music (2001), were recorded and subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in the United Kingdom, Europe, and on ABC Classic FM throughout Australia.

Peterson's music generally reflects his interest in tonal idioms, as well as the energy and rhythmic propulsion inherent in many popular music styles. A typical work of this type is Shadows and Light, a large–scale composition for SATB symphonic chorus, SATB semi–chorus, soprano and tenor soloists, string orchestra and percussion; this work was premiered by Sydney Philharmonia in November 2004.

Peterson is currently Lecturer in Composition in the School of Music and Music Education at the University of New South Wales and recently won the 2005 Albert H. Maggs Composition Award.

Biography provided by the composer — current to October 2007

Studied with

Peter Sculthorpe (1987)

Ross Edwards (1999)


Teacher/Influence on

Peggy Polias

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2005 Albert H Maggs Composition Award First Prize Guilty pleasures
1992 Jean Bogan Prize for Piano Composition High Commended Walking on glass

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Double entendre : for string quartet and piano (2013) Commissioned by the ‘Composition to Movement Festival 2013'
Fabulous beasts : for Bb clarinet, cello and piano (2012) Commissioned by Sydney Omega Ensemble, David Rowdon.
Digital sheet music sample Dreams and visions (satb choir with soloists and chamber ensemble) (2011) Commissioned by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir.
Digital sheet music sample Race against time : for cello and piano (2010) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Digital sheet music sample Veni Creator Spiritus : for unaccompanied SATB chorus (2010) Written especially for Sydney Philharmonia Choir on the occasion of their 90th Anniversary.
Impressions of Shanghai : for solo piano (2010) Written especially for the ‘Shadows and Silhouettes’ project, a musical exchange between Australian and Chinese composers