Project Piano’s Peter Auker talks about his musical background.


“I wasn’t born into an especially musical family, but my dad loved all kinds of music, ranging from the classics to big band jazz, Bing Crosby, and even Led Zeppelin! He passed that love of music on to me and encouraged me to take up the piano in my early teens.

I quickly progressed with the help of my first teachers, Dorothy Bell and William Mitchell, and then gained a place on the Graduate course at the London College of Music in 1977, where I was taught by the college principal William Lloyd Webber (father of Andrew), pianist David Campbell and Gordon Phillips, organist at All Hallows-By-The-Tower. I achieved my ALCM and GLCM qualifications, and quickly followed these with the Fellowship of Trinity College of Music (FTCL), and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education from Goldsmiths College. I had already started having success as a piano teacher at that time, and also gave regular piano recitals.

During the late 1980s and early 90s I was accepted as a pupil of the renowned composer Giles Swayne, with whom I studied composition. Giles was a truly inspirational teacher and person!

Twenty years as a secondary school music teacher followed, during which time I achieved a Masters degree in music from the University of Sheffield, appeared on television as “the music teacher” in the LWT series ‘School Days’, played the piano on the stage of the Royal Albert Hall, and worked on high profile educational projects with the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Sinfonia and the distinguished composer David Bedford – a remarkable musician known as much for his work with rock stars like Mike Oldfield and Elvis Costello as his classical work with artists such as the singer, Peter Pears.

Coming up to date, I regularly perform in concerts and musical theatre events in London. I have been a Trustee of the Stephen Sondheim Society and a director of New Musicals Network.

I’m also a full member of the Independent Society of Musicians (one of their registered private teachers) and an examiner for Trinity College London, working all over the UK and abroad, including India, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Dubai and Ireland. As a teacher and examiner I am fully DBS checked (enhanced disclosure).  And finally, just to use up the tiny amount of space left in my life, I have recently been awarded a PhD in music at the University of Nottingham, researching into screen interpretations of Benjamin Britten’s operas and speaking at academic conferences (University of Bangor and University of Surrey). My supervisor for this project was Professor Mervyn Cooke, one of the world’s leading  experts on the music of Britten and author of many books on both Britten and film music. I have now been contracted by publishers Boydell and Brewer to write a book based on my research, for publication in the ‘Aldeburgh Studies in Music’ series in 2024.  Until the impact of Covid-19 in 2020, I was also a Teaching Affiliate in the Music Department at Nottingham University, teaching a number of modules on undergraduate courses. Having successfully concluded my doctoral studies at Nottingham I am now an independent researcher and a member of The Royal Musical Association, currently working on a book about Benjamin Britten. However, as long as I can find time for just enjoying playing the piano I’m happy!

I love my music, and especially love the doors that playing the piano has opened for me – the piano has been a loyal friend for over forty years!”

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