John Wallace

John Wallace

John Wallace was born in Methilhill, Fife. His father worked as a joiner in Tullis Russell Paper Mills and played like many of his extended family in the Tullis Russell Mills Band. Soon his father brought home a cornet and from the age of 7 John learnt his music in the informal sector through aural transmission from passionate inspired amateur musicians. He went on to Buckhaven High School where the Principal Music Teacher, Albert Cochrane was superimposing a Performing Arts Factory on a state school in the seminal early sixties. John never looked back from this flying start in Scotland’s superlative formal and informal music education system. At 15, he played the Haydn Trumpet Concerto on a European tour with the National Youth Orchestra of Gt. Britain  went on to read music at King’s College, Cambridge, where his Director of Studies was Sir David Willcocks, and then studied composition as a postgraduate at the Royal Academy of Music with Alan Bush and at York University with David Blake.

He later performed as a soloist, most famously with Kiri Te Kanawa to a live TV audience of 750,000,000 people, at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Diverse composers including Malcolm Arnold, James Macmillan and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies wrote him concertos. He started his brass interest ensemble with like-minded buccaneering individuals – the Wallace Collection – in 1986, and toured the world – to the USA, Canada, Australia, West and South Africa, Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Argentina, as well as all over Europe. He also made over 30 solo and ensemble CDs with an extended Wallace Collection getting to the top of the Billboard crossover charts in the USA twice.

He returned to Scotland in 2002 coming from the unusual non-academic career view of a self-employed entrepreneur into his first salaried and pensioned job aged 52 to become the first, and still the only, Scot to hold the position of Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Here he assembled a world-beating team of staff with a huge appetite for risk, blessed with the ability to lead the UK from Scotland. Together they forged a strategy Creating the Future of Performance.