Peter Bassano

Biography of Peter Bassano

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Peter Bassano is descended from a family of Venetian musicians brought to England by King Henry VIII in 1540, in order to augment and improve the King's Music, the Tudor Court's wind and string consort.

He studied trombone and singing at the Royal College of Music, where until last summer he was Professor of Trombone and Sackbut and Head of Brass.

Peter Bassano with Philharmonia brass

Peter Bassano (second from left) with fellow members of the Philharmonia Orchestra brass section

As a trombonist, he was a member of the Philharmonia Orchestra for twenty seven years but retained a commitment to the performance of early music, playing the sackbut for David Munrow's Early Music Consort, the English Baroque Soloists, the Gabrieli Consort and His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts.

He was the founder and Artistic Director of the brass quintet, Equale Brass. This ensemble made seven records, toured world-wide, and commissioned twenty seven new works from composers as diverse as David Bedford, Peter Skellern, Roger Smalley and John Taverner. He has given masterclasses at Paris Conservatoire, Sibelius Akademy, Helsinki, Hong Kong Academy, Royal Swedish Academy, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney Conservatoires and has been a guest lecturer at Cambridge, Duke, Indiana, Open, Oxford, Queen's, Salford, Trinity and York Universities.

For more than fifteen years he has been conducting having periods of study with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Elgar Howarth, Jorma Panula and Bramwell Tovey. He is Music Director of The Equale Baroque Players, The Gentlemen of the Chappell. He was assistant conductor conductor to Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Consort and Players on his award winning Venetian Coronation and Music at San Rocco and Sir John Eliot Gardiner for his Berlioz Romeo and Juliet recording projects.

Peter Bassano conducts Symphonie Fantastique at RCM

Peter Bassano conducts the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra in Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique with standing upper strings as it was first performed.

In Great Britain, he has conducted at the Royal Festival Hall in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's International Series and at the Royal Albert Hall in a BBC Promenade Concert and at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. In addition he has made several Festival appearances at Chester, Greenwich, Nottingham, the Three Choirs (Worcester Cathedral), as well as performances abroad with the Helsinki Philharmonic, Royal Danish Academy Symphony and Royal Oman Symphony.

He has conducted a number of concerts with the RCM Chamber Choir (including the first performance in modern times of Beethoven's Trauerklange), introduced a standing RCM Symphony Orchestra to an historically aware performance of Berlioz [view video] and directed the Baroque Orchestra in performances of three of Bach's Brandenberg Concertos at Buckingham Palace. In January 1995 he was one of the first conductors to appear at the newly built Paris concert hall, Cité de la Musique. He returned to this major Paris venue in July 1998 to conduct two concerts with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band to ecstatic reviews and high profile TV coverage.

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Click the family moth to hear Bassano conducting the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra performing the end of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique with standing upper strings as it was first performed (see photo above).
Peter Bassano with Hong Kong Conservatoire Wind Orchestra

Peter Bassano with the Hong Kong Conservatoire Wind Orchestra

In 2001 he became Music Director of the Wendover Choral Society winning enthusiastic praise for Christmas in Venice. At the invitation of the Royal Opera House he conducted a centenary celebration of the Sousa Band's 1901 visit to Covent Garden. Most recently he conducted works by Britten at the Aldeburgh Easter Festival and a performance of Don Giovanni with Sir Thomas Allen received a standing ovation [view video]. His conducting debuts in 2005 included the Hong Kong Academy, Oxford Sinfonia, Oxford Touring Opera, Ulster Youth Orchestra and University of London Symphony Orchestra, all regarded as highly successful.

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Click the family moth to hear Bassano conducting Scene XV from Mozart's Don Giovanni

A champion of new music he has commissioned and conducted the first performances of Tim Souster's Echoes (Manchester/BBC Radio 3), Joseph Horovitz's Tuba Concerto (Nottingham Festival) and Andrew Powell's Falstaff: Theme and Episodes (Paris, Cité de la Musique), Chris Batchelor's Weasel Words & Winning Ways, Maxwell-Davies's Laudes, Simon Dobson's Four Britten Sketches and Fanfare for Peter, Aaron Einbond's Floral Decorations for Bananas, Edmund Joliffe's Breeze, Gabriella Swallow's Spit and most recently [13 June 2007] the UK premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen's Stockholm Diary (Oxford University).

Peter Bassano has published research on topics as diverse as William Byrd, Beethoven, Shakespeare and Veronese.

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Click the family moth to hear Bassano conducting the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra in the finale of Bruckner's Symphony no.4.