"Somehow, being away from home frees you up from the usual hangups about your own playing and makes you more willing to experiment. I learnt a lot of important principles here that stay with me today. Burned into my memory are visions of late night jams and french wine."
One week at the Chateau is pure indulgence: Sharing the passion for Jazz with an interesting, culturally mixed group of people, learning from outstanding tutors, listening to inspiring instrumentalists as well as singers, enjoying fantastic food, having a lot of fun (nothing beats the English humour) and all of that in the most stunning environment is truly unique.
Pete was born in London in 1961 and following his schooling here he studied music at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada - eventually returning to London again for a post-graduate year in composition and arranging at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
He has been a Professor of Jazz studies at the Guildhall since 1988 where his harmony classes have become legendary and where he directs and writes for the vocal ensemble. He is also a member of the faculty at the Royal Academy of Music where he teaches jazz composition and has recently concluded a long spell as a Senior Lecturer in Jazz Studies at Middlesex University where amongst other things he ran the large gospel choir.
Although he is obviously well known as a teacher Pete also manages a hectic freelance career both as a writer and as a performer - being equally well known as a jazz-pianist and a singer.
His long-standing interest in Music Theatre and song-writing has resulted in two appearances at the Vivien Ellis Prize for new musicals. In 1988 he won the Special Prize for the gospel musical "David and Goliath" and in 1992 he was outright winner with a show entitled "Cecil Jackson fights back". Songs from both these shows subsequently gained Gold and Platinum discs when released seperately in Denmark. Following this in 1993 Pete's reputation as a jazz pianist and vocal coach led to a year's hard labour as Musical Director for "Five Guys named Moe" in the West End and he subsequently decided to return to the more precarious life of the freelance jazz musician and educator.
Since that time Pete has been fortunate to travel the world both as a performer and as a teacher. His work in both these areas has taken him to Finland, Russia, France, Bulgaria as well as all around the British Isles where his role as an educator takes him to schools, community centres and into prisons - he has only recently returned from Australia where he spent three weeks running a professional development course for music teachers in jazz skills. This last trip was a result of his close association with the ground-breaking jazz syllabus developed by the Associated Board for which he is a Consulting Editor and a contributing composer and arranger. Other educational publications include a Small Band Jazz series for Stainer and Bell Publishers and a forthcoming book for Oxford University Press outlining his method of teaching choirs by ear.
As a pianist Pete has worked with many of the leading jazz names here and abroad and for the last decade has been the U.K. Musical Director for the legendary American jazz singer Mark Murphy. He also runs a trio under his own name with an album soon to be released this year called "The Bad and the Beautiful" - featuring the great Scottish sax player Bobby Wellins. As a singer he is a founder of the "New London Jazz Voices" and having successfully directed a performance of Ellington's Sacred Music with Stan Tracey last year Pete has been asked to sing the baritone lead with the Echoes of Ellington orchestra at Bury St. Edmonds in the spring.
He a member of the "Kenny Wheeler Vocal Project" with the wonderful Norma Winstone and in addition to this his work with Kenny both as a singer and arranger has led in recent years to high profile appearances at the Berlin jazz festival and the "Summer Jazz" festival in central Finland. Most recently he conducted the Kenny Wheeler Big Band at concerts in London and at the Appleby Festival in the north of England.
Looking ahead, there are exciting new projects to develop and various commissions with their attendant deadlines fast approaching as Pete continues to juggle the different sides of his career as a busy singer/pianist/arranger/composer - all this is in addition to his on-going work as one of Europe's leading jazz educators.
Pete has three children and lives with his wife Nikki Iles in the village of King's Langley in Hertfordshire.
Find out more about Peter Churchill at http://www.petechurchill.co.uk/