Born in Melbourne in 1930 John studied piano with Raymond Lambert and composition with Dorian Le Gallienne on an Ormond scholarship at the University Conservatorium and later, when established in London, with Arthur Benjamin. He was also an early pioneer in the field of music therapy for the Council for Music Therapy, working at Stoke-Mandeville Hospital, Netherden Mental Institution and the Star and Garter Home for war veterans. He was music director of the Spanish dance company Eduardo Y Navarra for several years and that contact led him to write his Concierto Folklórico released on ABC Classics with the composer as soloist. In 1980 James Galway premiered his Phoenix - Concerto for Flute and Orchestra in the Sydney Opera House and included it as one of the notable 20th century flute concertos he recorded for RCA; John’s Trumpet Concerto was recorded by Kevin Johnston with the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra and by John Wallace with the BBC Scottish Orchestra, both commercially released. Other recordings on ABC classics include Sea Changes - chamber music, and Solo Flights - piano works performed by fellow Australian Antony Gray, while on the Spanish KNS label CD entitled Fantasias for Four Hands , duo pianists Carles Lama and Sofia Cabruja have recorded all his works for piano - four hands.
Antony Gray, a dedicated promoter of Australian composers, premiered John’s Piano Concerto No.2 in Melbourne in 2011 with the Melbourne Chamber Strings conducted by Stefan Cassomenos, and it was in this year that John was awarded the Order of Australia Medal ‘for services to the arts as composer and concert pianist’.
John has been both criticised and lauded for working within a conservative musical idiom and for making melody and thematic material prime elements in his style; ‘tune smith’ from his detractors - ‘completely serious in his pursuit of the crusade of discovery in melody - blissfully accessible and often sheerly beautiful’ Rob Barnett - Music on the Web; John believes that for him, melody, thematic material are the starting points in the process of creating a well wrought musical structure designed to engage the interest of the listener.
Music has always been for me an escape into a fantasy world where imagined landscapes, images and adventures engage and delight, so the portmanteau title ‘ Escapades’ for this disc can serve to encompass all the works therein.
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