Peter Copley was born in Hove. After studying at the Royal Academy of Music and with the late Hans Keller, a Polish Government Scholarship took him to the Akademia Muzyczna in Krakòw. This proved to be the beginning of an enduring connection with Eastern Europe, from where he has received many commissions and performances.
His many works include Farnham Fantasia for strings, performed in both the Royal Festival and Royal Albert Halls and the Concerto for Trumpet, Strings and Percussion which received its acclaimed first performance by John Wallace and the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth in the orchestra’s 75th Birthday Weekend.
1999 commissions included Miniature Overture for the Schubert Ensemble, and Unfrozen Architecture for Southern Winds. In 2001, Peter wrote A City Awakes, a large-scale work commissioned by the Brighton & Hove Philharmonic Society in celebration of Brighton and Hove’s elevation to city status. This was first performed by the Brighton Philharmonic orchestra in October 2002.
Recent compositions include, Elegiac Variations for Jan and Jane for two Violas and String Orchestra, Conversation Piece for Percussion Ensemble, commissioned by Brighton & Hove Music and A Song to the Dawn for Soprano Solo, Chorus and Orchestra, commissioned by the Brighton Festival and first performed in May 2006 in the Dome at part of the 2006 Brighton Festival. In the 2007 Brighton Festival, Steve Dummer and Yoko Ono gave the first performance of Fantasy Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, written especially for them.
In June 2008 Gridshell Symphonies for trombone quartet and string quartet, was performed in the Gridshell building of the Weald and Downland open air museum as part of the Arts Council’s Architecture 08 festival. In July 2008, Anne Hodgson gave the first performance of Concerto flute, Strings and Harp (2003) with the Musicians of All Saints conducted by Dominic Nunns.
Peter Copley’s first performances for 2009 included Sealife Stomp for percussion ensemble, commissioned by Brighton & Hove Music Service and first performed by them in the Brighton Dome; A Copper Garland whose version for full orchestra was premiered by the Sussex Symphony Orchestra at St Bartholomews Church, Brighton: Incidental music for Dementia Diaries by Maria Jastrzebska for flute and cello, commissioned by Lewes Live Literature and first produced at the Eastbourne Festival in April 2009 and Partita for Piano Quartet, first performed at the 2009 Brighton Festival.
2010 compositions included The Midnight Skaters for voice and orchestra, commissioned by the Brighton Youth Orchestra and first performed at last year’s Brighton Festival with Sir John Tomlinson, Concert Fantasy for mandolin commissioned by Alison Stephens for the 2010 Dartington International Summer School.
This year (2012), Peter celebrates his half century with the first performances of his String Quartet no.2 (2011), composed for the Stanford Quartet and Three Motets, commissioned by St Bartholomews Church, Brighton. Future projects include a Piano Concerto for Margaret Fingerhut and a work for chorus, children’s choir and orchestra on the subject of Chanctonbury Ring.