John Wallace

John Wallace
BfB Expert, International Trumpet Soloist

John Wallace grew up in the Brass Band tradition in Scotland. In 1965 he toured Europe with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain conducted by Rudolf Schwarz as soloist in the Haydn Trumpet Concerto. In common with many NYO players of the sixties – Mark Elder, Anthony Pay, David Pountney, Andrew Davis, David Atherton, John was directed towards Cambridge by the indomitable Dame Ruth Railton. After taking a music degree at King’s College, during David Willcocks time as Director of Music, John went to the Royal Academy of Music as a composition student of Alan Bush, and thence to York University as a student of David Blake.

John continued to play as second trumpet on tour with the Festival Ballet and Northern Sinfonia, in order to help pay for his continuing studies, and en passant learned the complicated craft of orchestral trumpet playing from the bottom up. Gradually ‘trombamania’ overtook the composing muse, and, after periods with the RPO and LSO as Assistant Principal Trumpet, John went on to become Principal Trumpet, and vice-Chairman of the Council, of the Philharmonia.

In 1981, John’s career took an opportune twist when he played the trumpet obligato to Kiri Te Kanawa’s soprano in the Handel aria, Let the Bright Seraphim conducted by Sir David Willcocks, at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The exposure led to many solo engagements and during his subsequent career as a trumpet player, John played concertos with many conductors including Simon Rattle, Andrew Davis, Riccardo Muti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, and premiered new works by Malcolm Arnold, Peter Maxwell Davies, Harrison Birtwistle, James MacMillan, Tim Souster, Robert Saxton, Mark Antony Turnage, HK Gruber, Dominic Muldowney, and Robert Saxton, amongst many others.

In 1986, John created his flexible brass interest group, The Wallace Collection. This incredible group of eccentric virtuosos also included his friend and colleague John Miller, who, incidentally, was also a member of Tullis Russell Mills Junior Band in Markinch, Fife at age 6; also an NYO member at age 15; also a Kingsman; also a fellow Philharmonian. The two Johns from Fife and the Wallace Collection have made over 30 solo and ensemble CDs for Nimbus, EMI, EMI Toshiba, Collins Classics, JVC, BIS, Deux-Elles and Linn Records.

In 2002 he returned to Scotland to become Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a multidisciplinary institution of Drama, Dance, Production, Screen and Music. He left this position in September 2014 to resume his musical career, reforming The Wallace Collection, and composing new music for brass.

With Trevor Herbert he co-edited the Cambridge University Press Companion to Brass Instruments and, with Alexander McGrattan, wrote a history of The Trumpet, published in 2012 by Yale University Press. John was awarded the OBE in 1995 in recognition of his distinguished services to Music, and the CBE in 2011 for services to Dance, Music and Drama in Scotland.