Opus 1: Getting to know... Peter Walton - Britten Sinfonia

Opus 1: Getting to know… Peter Walton

Meet Peter Walton, a professional guitarist who has recently returned to composition alongside his playing.

What are you looking forward to about being part of Opus 1?

Composing can be a fairly solitary occupation so I’m looking forward to working with Joe and Dobrinka and excited to hear their feedback on what I’ve written. Also, having two sessions with the Britten Sinfonia musicians to try out ideas before the performance is a luxury that I haven’t experienced before.


Who has been your biggest musical influence so far?

I think I’d have to say my mentor, Sally Beamish, OBE. Having Sally’s advice made me think about my compositions in a different way. She was very kind and encouraging with her observations and challenged me to take what I was doing to the next level.


What inspires you to compose?

The people I’m writing for! For my Opus 1 composition for example, I really wanted to write for the ensemble that included the bassoon, mainly because I’ve never written for the bassoon in a small ensemble before, so part of the initial inspiration was the thought of working closely with that sound.


What is your favourite instrument to compose for?

At the moment, at the early stage of my composing career, I’m excited to write for the instruments and voices that I haven’t yet written for, which is quite a long list! I really enjoyed writing my piece Fragments for solo violin, so I think violin would be top of my list at the moment.

Peter Walton

Why do you think creating new music is important?

I think making new art is important, whatever the genre. I think as an artist the remit should be to try and create the spark that fires the imagination. The art we know and love is important but I think it’s also necessary to put that alongside new art that challenges us.


If you could write a brand new piece for anyone in the world, who would you choose?

At the moment, I’d say the violinist Fenella Humphreys. Completely out of the blue she made a wonderful video of a solo violin piece that I sent her. It would be lovely to be able to work with Fenella on a new commission.

(You can see Fenella playing Peter’s piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SzdXjAZ39o)


What is the hardest thing about being a composer?

The admin! If I could have a PA that would make me very happy!


What’s your biggest compositional ambition?

Going to the Proms has been part of my summer ritual for a very long time, so to have an orchestral piece played at the Albert Hall in a Proms concert would be a dream come true.


What 3 pieces of music would you have to have on your desert island?

Messiaen – Turangalila Symphony – I hear new things in it every time.

Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life – in case I want to dance!

Schubert – Piano Sonata in Bb D960 – sublime, other-worldly Schubert


What is the best snack?

My daily composing routine always includes tea drinking and snacking on Nakd bars and cashew nuts!


Find out more about Peter’s work here: http://petewalton.com


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