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Peter Billam : Associate Artist

Artist website: http://www.pjb.com.au/

Peter Billam was born in Hammersmith, London, on 18 August 1948. His tertiary studies were in Theoretical Physics, graduating in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) from Imperial College, London University. During this time he also pursued an interest in the guitar, playing folk guitar professionally around the folk clubs of London.

Following graduation, Billam concentrated on playing the electric guitar professionally. Between 1970 and 1973 he toured England and Holland with Continuum, issued 2 LPs on RCA Records and played in numerous recording sessions. In London he was involved in the avant-garde music scene with Malcolm Fox, Jonathan Lloyd, Simon Bainbridge, Howard Davidson, Oliver Knussen and others. His interests also extended to the free-jazz scene, playing with several ensembles and recording an LP with Bob Downes and Harry Miller.

Leaving London in 1974 to work as an engineer in Switzerland, Billam undertook classical guitar studies with Michel Rutscho at the Conservatorium of Bienne, and also began serious compositional activity, studying with Daniel Andres. Compositions from this time include Divisions on an Italian Ground for flute and guitar, and Five Short Pieces for guitar.

From 1980-1981 Billam worked as Musical Director of the Theatre Populaire Romand, composing all the music for their productions, rehearsing and training the actors, and acting. Between 1981 and 1983, he worked as record producer, recording LPs by William Nabore (piano), Steve Kanoff (clarinet), Catherine Collard (pianono), Kim Walker (bassoon), and also co-arranged, recorded, and re-mixed the first LP by Switzerland's premier new-wave group Film de Guerre.

In 1983 Billam moved to Hobart, Tasmania, and lectured in composition and electronic music at the Conservatorium of Hobart. In 1985 he was engaged in teaching at Tasman District High School, in Nubeena, while also giving private tuition and becoming involved with a number of local ensembles. A large body of compositions and numerous arrangements of folk tunes date from this time.

Billam returned to Hobart in 1988 to work at the State Library of Tasmania, and was also active as a performer and as Musical Director of the Hobart Society of Recorder Players. Compositions from this time include Decision, for eight-voice choir, and A Suite of Curves, for trombone (or horn) and piano.

In 1994 Billam founded PJB Computing and in 1996 developed muscript, a free music typesetting software application, which he continues to maintain and enhance. Recent compositions include Three Preludes (2003) for piano and Second Solo Suite (2003) for flute.

Biography provided by the composer — current to October 2005