Executive Secretary (Facebook)


Peter Whitehead first picked up the viola when he was 16, while still playing the violin. He was completely converted after a year, and has never looked back, realising he was more suited to its size and loved the instrument’s timbre. Peter has graduated with a BMus (Hons) and MMus (Instrumental Performance) from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and will complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Orchestral Performance in 2024 (also at RBC). He has studied with Louise Lansdown, Lucy Nolan, and Adam Romer.

Since studying at RBC, Peter has grown a passion for orchestral playing, having been heavily involved with the institution’s orchestra projects, often in leading positions. On multiple occasions he has been Principal Viola of RBC’s Symphony Orchestra; highlights include Strauss’ Oboe Concerto with Jonathan Kelly (Principal Oboist of the Berlin Philharmonic), and Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra at Symphony Hall. Other favourite orchestra projects include opera productions of ‘Coraline’ (by Mark-Anthony Turnage) and Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’; a performance of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’, narrated by Sir Lenny Henry and broadcasted on Classic FM; and a string orchestra project directed by Maria Włoszczowska (Leader of the Royal Northern Sinfonia). Peter has also had multiple opportunities with Welsh National Opera side-by-side rehearsals, and was on the CBSO Training Scheme in 2020.

Externally, Peter was involved with the CBSO Youth Orchestra from 2015-2018, working with conductors such as Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Cristian Măcelaru, and Jac van Steen. Favourite highlights included being Principal Viola for CBSO Youth’s performance of Mahler Symphony No. 6, and playing Strauss’ Alpine Symphony. Peter has also started taking on professional work, playing with Sinfonia Cymru for part of Bryn Terfel’s UK tour in 2022, and recently joined Sinfonia Stellaris.

Peter also enjoys playing chamber music. He has been the violist of the Saorsa Quartet since 2018, who were first formed at RBC. They were heavily active in RBC’s chamber music scene, featuring in multiple festivals, involved in performances with Birmingham New Music’s concert series, and won the Sylvia Cleaver Chamber Music Prize in March 2022. They also received coachings from numerous tutors, including Lucy Nolan, Robin Ireland, Oliver Wille, Jonathan Kelly, and members of the Heath and Castalian quartets. Externally, Saorsa performed at the Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival: Summer Residency in 2022, performing Dvořák’s String Quintet in E-flat (Op. 97) alongside Krysia Osostowicz. Saorsa were also one of two resident student quartets at the Lake District Summer Music Festival in 2023, performing alongside the Sacconi Quartet, Gwilym Simcock, and the Morassi Quartet.

Away from ensemble activities, Peter has been the British Viola Society’s Executive Secretary for their Facebook pages since 2018. He has also had individual success, winning the John Fussell Award for Young Musicians in October 2021, receiving £2,500. Peter also enjoys teaching, most notably with the ARCO Project, having provided chamber music and individual online tuition to children at the Morris Issacson Centre for Music (in Soweto, South Africa).