John was educated at the Sydney Conservatorium High School. There he studied Composition and Piano with Raymond Hanson. He holds piano performing qualifications from the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and the Trinity College of Music. His postgraduate degrees are from the University of Adelaide where he gained a Master of Music degree in Music Education and Composition, and the University of Wollongong where he earned a Doctorate in Creative Arts.
He is recognised as a leading secondary and tertiary educationalist and has spoken at various international conferences including the International Society for Music Education. He is also Editorial Consultant for the Australian Music Examinations Board (AMEB) and compiled the new AMEB Piano for Leisure series.
It was at Wollongong University that doctoral studies provided him the opportunity to further explore a lifelong interest in ‘arts fusion’ approaches. Indeed many of John Terry’s compositions have been of multi-media proportions. In the mid-sixties, he presented many multi-media ‘events’ in and around Sydney. Performances of his musically eclectic ‘psychedelic’ works – some of which were presented by the International Society for Contemporary Music – involved pre-recorded sound tracks and striking visual projections. His compositions for organ have been performed for the Organ Institute of New South Wales and have received high acclaim. David Rumsey also performed John’s organ works internationally on several occasions: such as the Organ Festivals of Munich and Mexico City. At that same time John was working collaboratively, as a composer, with visual artist George Finey. A decade later he worked with international avant-garde painter David Rankin. His electro-acoustic and multi-media composition entitled Spots and Variations 1 based on Rankin paintings, was commissioned to mark the opening of the Faculty of Arts, Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (now USQ). John often combines composing with other artistic forms and is also a writer and visual artist. In 2001 one of his multi-media music-artworks was officially recognised by the United Nations in New York, marking the International Year of Volunteers.
John has also written several film scores for the Commonwealth Film Unit and Film Australia, and was pianist for the feature film The Fourth Wish. He holds a lifelong interest in the theatre and at one stage, even toured throughout Australia with Peter Scriven as a puppeteer with the renowned Marionette Theatre of Australia’s ‘Tintookies’. In the late eighties, his opera Ebenezer was presented – in puppet version - by Dale Woodward Theatres and performed for a season at the Bridge Theatre in Wollongong. The opera was also performed – in live version - at the Seymour Centre, Sydney, by the School Friends of the Australian Opera, to sell-out audiences.
He is renowned for his stylistically diverse improvisational skills. John has performed with many jazz groups and at one stage was resident pianist for the Adelaide New Music Players. Performances of his own works were presented by the ANMP during the Adelaide Festival of Arts. These works included Spots and Variations 2 for Ensemble and Tape and received enthusiastic reviews. He has been the recipient of various grants and commissions including those from the Australia Council and the Bicentennial Commission. More recent compositions have seen a turn from earlier ‘experimental’ forms and include two operas, orchestral and instrumental music of varying proportions, music theatre pieces for young people, songs, and works for piano.
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