Peter Dart

Peter Dart_web

Born in Sydney in 1953, Peter’s musical life has been one of constant personal discovery. At the age of eight he discovered the record collection of his deceased grandmother. Searching within the dusty flat covers he found a recording of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. He had never heard any classical music, and it made no sense to him at the time. But he was hooked! Aware that he was in the presence of something large and powerful, he listened to it repeatedly, until the jigsaw pieces came together and for the first time he sensed the power of music to say something larger than life. In 1963, aged 10, he started learning the clarinet and, in 1965, he gained a place at the high school of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. There, he studied clarinet with Thomas White, and later (in the 1970s) with Gabor Reeves.

Peter’s fascination with composition began early in 1967 while listening to late night broadcasts of twentieth-century music. On the strength of what he heard he wrote a string quartet and began composition lessons with Richard Meale in September of the same year. In the years that followed, until 1973, Peter studied with Peter Sculthorpe and Don Banks, with works performed at ISCM concerts in Sydney and Perth. In 1978, Easter Music, a work for solo piano, was recorded by the Australian pianist Robert Curry for Polskie Radio.

Despite early successes in composition, from the mid-1970s Peter rdirected his focus to performance. At that time, he was a member of the ABC National Training Orchestra and played casually with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Orchestra (now the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra). From 1979 to 1986 he held a position as clarinetist and saxophonist with the Queensland Theatre Orchestra (later merged with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra).

Peter has also had a career in teaching. Between 1980 and 1986, he tutored individual clarinet students and woodwind ensembles at the University of Queensland. From 1987 to 1998, Peter was Director of Music at Trinity Grammar School in Summer Hill, Sydney. Currently he coordinates the Composition Program at the Conservatorium High School, Sydney, where he has been tutoring composition since 2020.

Peter’s interest in composition revived while he was performing and teaching in Brisbane. There he studied with Georg Tintner and, during his years at Trinity, taught composition and wrote music for school productions. While working on a one-act opera in the early 2000s, Peter turned his attention to music that was more likely to be performed, beginning with Triptych for two pianos (published by Wirripang). This and other works written since 2010 were compiled and released by Toccata Classics in August 2022 as Peter Dart: Chamber Music and Songs. Much gratitude is owed to the performers, especially to Daniel Herscovitch, for their hard work and constant encouragement. From this point on, the adventure of discovery continues.

Peter completed his Doctor of Philosophy in Music, through the University of Queensland, in 1997. He also has a Master of Divinity and has worked for several years in pastoral ministry.

Reviews of Peter Dart: Chamber Music and Songs (Toccata Classics):

Colin Clarke, Fanfare (New Jersey), January 2022: This disc is a bit of a revelation. I say ‘a bit,’ as the excellence of the music sort of creeps up on the listener, a result of the compositional confidence of Peter Dart.

Gwen Bennett, Loudmouth (Sydney), February 2022: Although well-known in some musical circles, Peter Dart is not a household name. This ear-opening CD clearly demonstrates that he should be…The range and depth of the music clearly demonstrates the composer’s confident mastery of his craft; his sure and sophisticated technical ability is evident, as well as a joy in life, a great sense of fun and much more. We can only hope that this late flowering produces further creativity in the years ahead.



Fanfare:  read review

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