Biography

Peter Vizard is organist of the historic Cavaillé-Coll organ at the United Protestant Church of Pentemont Luxembourg since 1987 and former conservatoire director (École Nationale de la Haute-Loire and Conservatoire Frédéric Chopin in Paris) posts he held for more than 20 years.

In 2016, he founded with Agathe Mayeres the Ensemble Via Luce of which he is the musical director. The ensemble is composed of young future professional musicians and is based in Paris.

Peter is also a musicologist, continuo player, professor of music and translator.

His career began at the age of 7 as chorister at King’s College, Cambridge. He then went on to Brighton College where he continued his general and musical studies while presiding the Brighton College German Society. After studies of organ, piano, singing and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London, he went to Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Music.

He finished his studies at the famous Conservatoire de Paris  and Groupe de Recherches Musicales, in the class of musique électroacoustique (electronic music). While still a student, he was recruted by the National French Radio to be a producer at France Musique where he worked regularly with his own show for 2 years until the team split up in 1975 after a scathing article by the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre made the headlines and provoked a strike during which almost all the members were replaced.

He then went on to work at France Culture, Radio Classique and Le Monde de la Musique before returning to study conducting with Igor Markevitch and Sergiu Celibidache.

Also while at the conservatoire, he conducted the choirs in the Léo Ferré Spectacular at the Palais des Congrès in Paris and took part in the famous Grand Echiquier programme with Yvonne Lefébure. He worked for the Michel Legrand organization and sang briefly with the Swingle Singers after the departure for London of Ward Swingle.

He went on later to conduct operetta, opera and ballet in France and Germany (the Merry Widow, Giselle, Cenerentola amongst others) before founding the short-lived generic orchestra “L’Orchestre” in 1985 with the clarinettist Philippe Cuper. This was an attempt to place the musician in his rightful place with regard to the composer, in much the same way that musicians were in prerevolutionary times.

Greatly attached to the European idea as expressed by the founding fathers of the movement, he worked hard to promote contemporary music while at the head of the Frédéric Chopin Conservatoire in Paris with the organization for 7 consecutive years of the Contemporary Music Weekend for young pianists and the Concerts in the Dark every White Night.

He also organized events such as the 2014 weekend “Musik aus dem Land, das verschwand” for the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall in Berlin with contributions from the most important artistic personalities from East Germany.

As organist, he has worked for the Catholic Church (Cathedral du Puy-en-Velay) and the Protestant Church (his present post of titular organist at the Pentemont United Protestant Church in Paris), as well as for the Reform Synagogue of the rue Beaugrenelle for the Feasts of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. He has also performed as soloist in France, Germany and Rumania as well as improvising for cine-concerts on the films of Charlie Chaplin.

As a composer, he has made various arrangements and compositions for the church, including a collection of Christmas Carols for voices and instruments “A la Venue de Noël” published by Chanteloup Musique in 2015.

Author of articles for The Musical Times, le Monde de la Musique and the revue Silences, he has also had a brief career as actor in the following films :

  • Nulle Part Ailleurs.