Congratulations, Brother Peter Wilson!
Violinist Master Gunnery Sergeant Peter Wilson joined “The President’s Own” United States Marine Chamber Orchestra in September 1990. He was appointed principal second violin in 1991 and string section commander in 2007. For the past 25 years, he has also been the “Voice of the Marine Barracks,” serving as the official ceremonial narrator of Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. Today, he retires after 30 years of honorable and dedicated service to our country.
When Peter was nearly three years old, his mother put a violin in his hands and began to teach him to play. He continued to play through high school, taking lessons with Brother Donald Portnoy (Eta Theta Chapter – Catholic University of America – 1957) but wasn’t sure if he would continue after graduation. At the time, Peter was very interested in broadcast journalism. After graduation from Morgantown High School in 1986, he enrolled at Northwestern University.
Two years later, in 1988, Peter would be initiated into Phi Mu Alpha by the Iota Chapter. During his senior year at Northwestern, Peter was informed about an opportunity with the Marine Band by his friend Pat Sheridan who was playing tuba with the band. Brother Wilson was already committed to serves as the Concertmaster of the Walt Disney World Orchestra. Despite a demanding schedule, he managed to arrange for an audition with the band. Peter graduated from Northwestern University with his Bachelor’s of Music degree in violin performance.
In September of 1990, Peter joined the Marines and began playing with the band. He was appointed principal second violin in 1991. He earned his Master’s Degree in Music in 1995, and his Doctorate in 2007, from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Throughout his career, Brother Wilson has been in high demand for his skills and versatility, commanding respect in genres ranging from classical and jazz to country, folk, and pop/rock. He’s played for every United States Presidential Administration since George H.W. Bush. As a violin soloist, he has appeared with renowned artists as Rosemary Clooney, Michael Feinstein, Renée Fleming, Bernadette Peters, Randy Travis, Chely Wright, and Trisha Yearwood. He has performed chamber music in concert with Ida Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom, and Peter Wiley.
In 2001, he played at the personal invitation of former Defense Secretary William Cohen for a private book-signing event honoring Quincy Jones and the release of his autobiography. In 2017, Peter played, at the request of President Obama, for a special private dinner for the First Lady in honor of the couple’s last wedding anniversary to be celebrated in the White House.
Brother Wilson has played at the Presidential Retreat at Camp David, at the Vatican before Pope John Paul II, at the American Embassy in Paris, and at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, where he performed his arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner to open a Major League Baseball game.
He has performed with orchestras backing up Beyoncé, Ray Charles, Josh Groban, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Johnny Mathis, and Joni Mitchell, as well as Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in their Zeppelin UnLEDed World Tour. Brother Wilson has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra of Washington, DC, has served as a concertmaster for the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra, and recently appeared on HBO as a member of the orchestra that supported the “We Are One” concert at the Lincoln Memorial. He also performed with Stevie Wonder in a 21-piece orchestra at the Library of Congress in the World Premiere of Mr. Wonder’s “Sketches of a Life.”
Brother Wilson has also served as the Music Director and primary conductor of the Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra in Richmond, Virginia since September 1, 2013. Peter was named a Signature Sinfonian by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity in 2015. Brother Wilson was recently named as the new Artistic Director and conductor of the Youth Symphony Orchestra for the Youth Orchestras of Central Virginia.
Congratulations on your retirement, Brother!
Peter Wilson’s violin instructors included Linda Cerone, Robert Gerle, Blair Milton, and Donald Portnoy (Eta Theta Chapter – 1957). His conducting instructors were Victor Yampolsky and John P. Paynter (Iota Chapter- 1948).