Performer on clarinet, saxophone, guqin (Ancient 7-stringed Chinese zither), ruan (Chinese 4-stringed guitar), composer, and teacher Tony Wheeler was born in New Zealand in 1958, and has spent most of his life in Australia, as well as a considerable number of years in Asia. He studied clarinet and composition at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, where he also had his first contact with Chinese traditional music. After graduating in 1982 with a B.Mus. with Distinction, he worked as a freelance player and teacher, before being awarded a scholarship to spend two years (1985-87) at the Shanghai Conservatory, studying Chinese composition, ruan and guqin. After leaving Shanghai, Tony then spent four years studying and teaching at the University of Hong Kong, before receiving a Master’s Degree in composition for Chinese instruments.
As well as maintaining a busy teaching schedule, Tony is active in a wide variety of musical genres and styles. He frequently performs on Chinese and Western instruments in a contemporary and or improvisatory context, but has also played clarinet and saxophone in major orchestras including the Queensland Symphony and Sydney Symphony. He is currently employed by four educational institutions as a clarinet and saxophone teacher. He also teaches the guqin and ruan.
In 2000, Tony recorded a CD for the Celestial Harmonies label, entitled Moon Road To Dawn, in collaboration with the shakuhachi Master James Franklin. He also appears on the CD East, released by the Australian Institute of Eastern Music. Another CD Nine Elemental Songs, which he recorded in collaboration with James Franklin and Michael Atherton, was released by Wirripang in 2008.
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