Peter Aviss

Composer and Conductor



Peter Aviss was born in Croydon in 1950. He studied Music and Education at Hockerill College, Bishops Stortford and violin/viola with Max Morgan at Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he also studied composition with Edmund Rubbra and Patric Standford, and later with Lennox Berkeley.

He has composed for a variety of different genres, from solo violin – Transfiguration, and songs through to string orchestra, choral, orchestral and educational works; many of the works having been commissioned. Some of these works, including his Missa Brevis for SATB a capella choir, have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3. His Concertino for Harp and String orchestra has been performed many times in England and The Netherlands, with soloists Sioned Williams and more recently, Lucy Wakeford.

In 1998, Peter Aviss was commissioned for a work for Kent Music School’s bid for “The World’s Largest Orchestra” which was performed on 29th June 1998, the work being titled Music for Multitudes. It was composed for all orchestral instruments with the inclusion of parts for recorders, guitars and electronic keyboards from beginner to advanced standard.

In 1998 he was commissioned by the Quaker performing arts group, The Leaveners, for a full-length dramatic cantata on the life of the American Quaker, John Woolman – Woolman’s Witness. The first performance took place at the Royal College of Music, London, on 6th April 2002, performed by members of the Quaker Festival Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by the composer. Woolman’s Witness is scored for Soprano, Tenor and Baritone Soloists, Narrator, Chorus and Chamber Orchestra. The two-part work lasts for 120 minutes including about 30 minutes of narration.

Woolman’s Witness was also performed in Newcastle in April 2007.

In January 2006 his arrangement for string orchestra of Bach’s D minor Chaconne for solo violin was given its first performance. Also, in this year he completed a new recorder concerto for John Turner, Fantasia Concertante for Recorder and String Orchestra, which received its premiere in January 2007.

In April 2009 he completed a short work for string orchestra, The Seafarer, which was given its premiere in January 2010. This was followed by Tres Lusciniae, a new work for John Turner, recorder and Lesley-Jane Rogers, soprano.

December 2012 saw the completion of a 30-minute song-cycle for Lesley-Jane Rogers and Oare String Orchestra. The work is a setting of 6 Yeats poems titled How Love Fled. The first performance took place on 28th September 2013.

In 2013, Martin Outram gave the 1st performance of a Fantasia for solo viola, They were changed men… on 21st November at Canterbury Music Club. Martin is also the dedicatee for Peter’s Viola Concerto, completed in September 2017, and first performed by Martin with Oare String Orchestra on 27th January 2018. The Viola Concerto received its United States premiere on 17th February 2019 performed by Rita Porfiris and the North/South Orchestra conducted by Max Lifchitz at Christ & St. Stephens Church, New York.

The Seafarer was performed by The London Mozart Players, conducted by Michael Bawtree for the 2020 JAM on the Marsh virtual festival – the premiere release on YouTube was on 15th August, and available until 13th September 2020. The Seafarer has been performed again by The London Mozart Players, conducted by Michael Bawtree, but this time live! At St Nicholas Church, New Romney for JAM on the Marsh on 16th July 2021.

Peter’s Concerto for clarinet and string orchestra, written for Peter Cigleris received it’s first performance on 25th  September 2021, at West Faversham Community Centre, performed by Peter Cigleris with Oare String Orchestra conducted by Peter Aviss. It has subsequently received its USA premiere on 4th February 2024, with Megan Shumate Beaumont, clarinet, and the North/South Consonance conducted by Max Lifchitz.

His Sonata for two violas written for Peter Mallinson and Matthias Wiesner was completed in August 2021, and received its first performance on 10th February 2023 at St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street London.

Peter is currently working on a large scale choral and orchestral work setting poems by Harvey Gillman. The texts contain much about the climate emergency, but the titles of the movements also relate to the Holy Communion (or Mass) of the Anglican tradition; however, the content is not Anglican it is Quaker! The work is scored for mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, SATB chorus and classical sized orchestra, albeit with the addition of harp and percussion.

Peter Aviss has retired after 42 years as a string teacher. He is musical director and founder conductor of Oare String Orchestra and performs regularly playing viola and sometimes violin.

He is a professional member of the Ivors Academy (formerly British Academy of Composers, Songwriters and Authors), and Performing Right Society. He is also a Fellow of Trinity College of Music in Composition, and a Fellow of ISM.