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Peter Adams profile photo

Professor of music and lead course adviser
MusB (Hons), MMus (Lond), LRSM, FTCL
Joined the staff in 1990

Tel +64 3 479 8890

Peter is a nationally respected professional conductor who has given more than two hundred and fifty concerts working with orchestras, brass bands, and choirs all around New Zealand. As a composer he primarily writes instrumental works that embrace poly-stylism and a mixed-modal language aiming to be evocative and stimulating for listeners.

More about Peter's creative and research interests


Materials of music papers:

Conducting paper:

Composition papers:

Other papers:

Background including creative and research interests

Peter is a respected conductor, especially recognized for his work with young people in youth orchestras, summer schools, The NZ Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra and the NZ National Youth Brass Band. He has also made many professional appearances in Dunedin conducting the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and St Kilda Brass. For ten years he was musical director of the City Choir Dunedin. Peter is a leading figure in the NZ brass band scene and as well as conducting, he regularly adjudicates at brass band contests and festivals. As a composer, performances of his works can be found on CDs, YouTube and Vimeo, and several works have had score and parts published.

A few recent compositions:

  1. Look to the Far Horizon for string quartet was written for the Jade string quartet, and first performed in one of their Pah Gallery, Auckland subscription series concerts in 2017. The music attempts to capture some of the atmosphere and character of the skies and seascapes surrounding his home city of Dunedin, and the nearby Otago peninsula.
    Listen at:
    Published score and parts
  2. Huriawa, Prelude and variations for orchestra (2011) evokes some of the atmosphere and character of the Huriawa pa on the Karitane peninsula and its landscape, its violent history and its stories. Fragments of Wagnerian yearning romantic music appear from time to time to remind of the human tragedy. The work is a series of variations on material derived from the step progression of Wagner 's Tristan prelude. It was first performed in 2019 by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tecwyn Evans.
  3. String quartet 2 Proclamation, Canons and Dances (2019) was commissioned by the Jade Quartet and is based around the idea of recontextualising a Haydn quartet into twenty-first century Aotearoa. It has been given numerous performances by the Jade, including on their 2021 North Island tour for Chamber Music NZ.

SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music features a biography and collection of Peter's works.

Peter is an experienced and enthusiastic teacher who has had outstanding teaching evaluations. He is energetic in sharing his knowledge and skills with his students, and enjoys supporting each individual student's growth and development. Successful Otago music graduates Peter has taught include Simon O'Neill, John Lewis, Michael Joel, Tecwyn Evans, Holly Mathieson and Andrew Crooks.

Areas of research supervision

  • Music analysis
  • Composition
  • Music for wind and brass

A selection of student supervisions

  • “Production, genre and composition: A study of approaches to contemporary studio production”, Maddy Parkins-Craig, Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
  • “Composing for Synthesizers in a Western Art Music Setting”, Alex Campbell-Hunt, Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)
  • “Dispelling the Myths of the Brass Wind Embouchure: Methods, Mechanics and Practices”, Steve Miles, PhD

Peter is currently involved in the supervision of five PhD, one DMA and two MMus students.

Other musical and community activities

  • Peter has written reviews, programme notes, given pre-concert talks and other community and schools' presentations.
  • Peter still occasionally performs on clarinet for new student compositions.

A selection of creative outputs

  1. Adams, P.V. (composer) Concerto Burlesca for violin and brass band is the main work on the CD "Old, New, Borrowed and Blues - a marriage of musical genres" performed by St Kilda Brass conducted by Steve Miles. The CD was produced by Steve Miles, engineered by Tex Houston and recorded at Albany St Studios, the University of Otago. Commercially released CD SKB1 in August 2008.
  2. Adams, P.V. (composer) Breath of Souls: Five Waiata for Solo Flute published score by Promethean Editions, Wellington, University Edition UME11, ISBN: 978-1-877564-89-5, ISMN: 979-0-67452-229-8
  3. Adams, P. V. (conductor) Beethoven's Big Bash! With university music student soloists, City of Dunedin Choir and the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra. Dunedin Town Hall, April 2021
  4. Adams, P. V. (conductor) Tally Ho! 3: Dunedin Sounds, Songs and Singers with Anna Leese (soprano), original Dunedin Sound singers, and the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, Dunedin Town Hall, Dunedin, March 2019
  5. Adams, P.V. (Joint Musical director and conductor with Kenneth Young). CD recording “Celebration: a tribute album of Ken Smith's arrangements for brass band”. Sessions for the Brass Band Association of New Zealand recording arrangements of the late Ken Smith. New Zealand Army Auditorium, Burnham military camp, Christchurch 21 – 24 February 2020. Commercial CD KSP0321 released 21 May 2021.


Adams, P. (2015). Breath of Souls: Five Waiata (2012-2014), for solo flute. Wellington, New Zealand: Promethean Editions [Published score]. [Composition/Musical Score].

Adams, P. (conductor) (2015, 23 May). Simon O'Neill, in concert with St Kilda Brass, Kavanagh College Auditorium, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Performance].

Adams, P. (conductor), Downes, G. (artistic director, singer), Petersen, T. (violin), & Burns, R. (fender bass) (2015, 28 February). Tally Ho! Dunedin Sound, Songs & Singers (28 February), with the Southern Sinfonia, Dunedin Town Hall, Dunedin, New Zealand. [Performance].

Adams, P. (conductor) (2014, 3 May). NZ Secondary Schools' Symphony Orchestra Concert, with Han Sol Jeong (piano), Charles Luney Auditorium, Christchurch, New Zealand. [Performance].

Adams, P. (musical director) (2014, 6-8 February). National Youth Brass Band of New Zealand 'Going Places' Concert Tour, with Kirsty Rower (baritone horn), Palmerston North, Wanganui, & Wellington, New Zealand. [Performance].

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