Peter Whish-Wilson

  • Time at ASO 43 years
  • Instrument Tuba
  • Position Principal - Tuba
Peter Whish-Wilson

Peter Whish-Wilson was born in Lileah, Tasmania (population 38 at that time) and, like his father before him, started playing Tuba with the local brass band. He rapidly made progress competing in solo competitions—for example, at the age of 14 he won the Tasmanian Junior and Senior E flat Tuba Champion and then the Tasmanian Junior and Senior Champion of Champions on the same day. Peter also won the hat-trick of Junior and Senior E Flat Tuba Champion of Australia (aged 14, 15 and 16)—a feat that has never been equalled by any brass player in the country.

He left his family to move to Melbourne aged 15 to play in A Grade brass bands and, one year later, was accepted into the Victorian College of the Arts to study tuba with John Woods. At 17 Peter joined Orchestra Victoria (then known as the Elizabethan Melbourne Orchestra) where for almost 3 years he toured nationally performing opera and ballet for half the year on the road and the remaining time in Melbourne. He even did a stint with The Hector Crawford Orchestra in this period!

At the age of 20 Peter joined the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, where some of the highlights have been two separate productions of Wagner’s Ring Cycle (the first being the Australian première) and performing with such artists as Dame Margot Fonteyn, Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, Dame Joan Sutherland, Jessye Norman, Andrea Bocelli, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Michel Le Grande and Ennio Morricone.

Peter studied with some of the great tuba players/teachers including Arnold Jacobs (Chicago Symphony), Roger Bobo (L A Philharmonic) and Michael Lind (Stockholm Philharmonic).

He has performed many solo works with the ASO including the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto, a Mozart Horn Concerto and pieces written for him by Elena Kats-Chernin, Mike Kenny and Irving Rosenthal—not to forget the obligatory performances of Tubby the Tuba. In 2001 he recorded a world-first CD, entirely dedicated to solo tuba and symphony orchestra, with the ASO conducted by David Stanhope. It was released worldwide under the ABC Classics label entitled Tuba Concertos .

Peter has played with all the full-time Australian Symphony Orchestras and the Macau Orchestra (which included several tours to mainland China and Mongolia).

He has also taught a great many students, including at the Canberra School of Music and, mainly, the Elder Conservatorium of Music (35 years)—many of whom have become professionals themselves. Peter has received such honours as being voted First E flat tuba in the band-world Magazine Australian Band of the Century, inducted into the Circular Head Hall of Fame in Tasmania, has been painted twice by internationally recognised surrealist painter Andrew Baines (entered in the Archibald Prize and finalist in the Doug Moran Portrait Prize). His playing has taken him through the UK, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, Korea, China and the USA.

This is Peter’s 45th year of being a professional orchestral tuba player.

Peter is supported by Ollie Clark AM & Joan Clark via our Musical Chairs program.


Recording courtesy of ABC Classic

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