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Professor Pete Wilson

Professor of Music Performance

Faculty of Creative Industries, Architecture and Engineering


For the past twenty years Pete has balanced an academic career with playing bass guitar in a variety of pop and classical settings.

He studied at Trinity College (London) and gained a First Class BA (Hons) in music from University of York, followed by a DPhil on Charles Ives researched at Yale University (USA) in 1994.

In 1989 he became a founder member of both The Steve Martland Band (Factory Records) and Icebreaker, and went on to play for Ensemble Modern with John Adams, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, American Composers Orchestra (Carnegie Hall) and in several BBC Proms (Royal Albert Hall). He has commissioned and performed a bass guitar concerto by composer Colin Riley.

He has also played bass for dance companies that include The Royal Ballet, Rambert Dance Company, London Contemporary Dance Theatre, Scottish Ballet, Random Dance and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company.

Pop credits include Brian Eno, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Melanie C, Rufus Wainwright, and playing Sir Paul McCartney’s violin bass in Abbey Road Studio 2 in front of the man himself.

Pete has taught at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Dartington College of Arts, University of York and headed the BA (Hons) programme at Brighton Institute of Modern Music from its inception in 2003. He has been external examiner for University College Cork, University of Central England (UCE Birmingham), Tech Music Schools, Leeds College of Music, University of The West of Scotland, University of West London.

Taught courses

Further information

Industry experience

Pete’s practical research interests lie in the use of bass guitar in contemporary classical music. He has played for many ensembles and crossover projects:

  • American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, NY and Kennedy Centre, Washington DC.
  • Aurora Orchestra – Zappa’s The Adventures of Greggery Peccary and G-Spot Tornado (BBC Prom/BBC R3).
  • Aurora Orchestra – Michael Gordon’s Decasia (UK premiere, QEH).
  • Bang on a Can Allstars, Lincoln Centre, NY.
  • BBC Symphony Orchestra.
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
  • BBC Prom with John Harle.
  • Bochum Symphony Orchestra, Germany.
  • Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
  • Colin Riley – commissioned bass guitar concerto, performed with VIVA (East of England Orchestra).
  • David Dramm.
  • David Lang (Pulitzer prize-winner).
  • De Volharding (Contemporary Music Network & European ‘Big Noise’ tour).
  • Endymion.
  • Ensemble Modern (Frank Zappa’s Yellow Shark group), Frankfurt, European Tour.
  • Icebreaker (invited by David Bowie to play in New York, May 2007, accompanying Brian Eno 2009).
  • John Adams.
  • London Sinfonietta/BBC Radio 3.
  • Louis Andriessen/Gerard Bouwhuis/Cees Van Zeeland – Huddersfield Festival 2009.
  • Michael Gordon.
  • Michael Torke.
  • MooV.
  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Steve Martland Band.
  • London Contemporary Dance Theatre - final tour 1991.
  • Rambert Dance Company.
  • Random Dance Company.
  • Royal Ballet.
  • Scottish Ballet.
  • Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company.

Pete still plays regularly with Icebreaker, a band he’s been playing with since 1989. The group has toured the world and acquired the odd well-known fan along the way:

“Anyone who’s fascinated by the extraordinary tempos and times of... Conlon Nancarrow will appreciate Icebreaker’s phenomenal version.” David Bowie, Q Magazine, November 2006.

Recent publications

  • 'London Rd', Feature film, Soundtrack, 2015.
  • Mark-Anthony Turnage, 'No Let Up', NMC, 2014.
  • Colin Riley, 'Here', SKMusic, 2013.
  • Brian Eno/Icebreaker, 'Apollo', Cantaloupe Music, 2012.
  • Colin Riley, 'Fold', SKMusic, 2008.
  • Philip Glass/Icebreaker, 'Music With Changing Parts', Orange Mountain Music, 2007.
  • Colin Riley, 'Songs', SKMusic, 2007.
  • Icebreaker, 'Cranial Pavement', Cantaloupe, 2005.
  • Colin Riley, 'Close', SKMusic, 2004.
  • Michael Gordon/Icebreaker, 'Trance', Cantaloupe Music, 2003.
  • Icebreaker, 'Extraction', BTL, 2001.
  • Diderik Wagenaar, 'Metrum/Rookery Hill', Donemus 2001.
  • Opera Band, 'Science Fictions', Opera Band, 1998.
  • Icebreaker, 'Rogue’s Gallery', New Tone,1997.
  • Michael Gordon, 'Trance', Decca/Argo, 1996.
  • John Godfrey, 'Euthanasia…', New Tone, 1996.
  • Icebreaker, 'Terminal Velocity', Decca/Argo, 1994.
  • Graham Fitkin, 'Hook/Mesh/Stub/Cud', Decca/Argo, 1993.
  • Steve Martland Band, 'Crossing the Border', Factory, 1992.