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Our conductor

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Peter Webb OAM

Peter Webb OAM has been the conductor of the Unley Symphony Orchestra since 1983.

In earlier years he was a teacher in Victorian secondary schools, until a career change saw him become a professional oboe and cor anglais player, which led to contract work with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Opera Orchestra, and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. In 1975 he became the Principal Cor Anglais with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, a position he held to 1995.

In 1988, he was appointed Musical Director of the Bicentennial Closing Ceremony, composing, arranging, and conducting music for a large youth orchestra. He was also the Musical Director of Choir Cecilia in Mt. Barker for over 25 years, from 1997 until 2022. From 2004 to 2008, he was a member of the Council of the Young Adelaide Voices choir, and he was Director of State Music Camp in South Australia from 2008 until 2016, using his experience to nurture new generations of young musicians in orchestral and ensemble playing.

Peter continues to compose music, saying: "In composition, as in life, I strive for clarity and simplicity, and to speak openly and directly. I belong to no compositional school or "-ism", but try to express truth, experience, and self in a language that listeners can understand." The USO has performed several of his compositions over the years, including concertos, works with solo voice, works with choirs, and stand-alone orchestral works.

Peter is a regular performer on the didgeridu (yidaki). This is an act of ongoing personal respect for the First Nations people of Australia.

In 2007, after a lifetime of commitment to community music-making, Peter was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, for "service to the arts as a musician, conductor, composer, and teacher".

When asked why he continues to conduct the USO after so many years, he replied - "Over many years, the USO has sustained a culture of equality, friendliness, safety, and respect. It maintains unbounded musical enthusiasm, a commitment to high standards, and a noble aim of seeking to uplift and enrich the lives of all associated with it – players, guest artists, and audience – through the agency of fine music. I am privileged indeed to be invited to be part of such an orchestra."