Peter Urpeth has more than 30 years experience in the creative industries and in creative talent development. He is co-Director of Emergents Creatives – a social enterprise company funded by HIE and Creative Scotland – that supports and nurtures creative careers and the creative economy in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, with particular focus on the writing, publishing, fashion, craft, design and textiles sectors.
Originally Peter Urpeth was a jazz musician (pianist) working in free improvisation, and he has worked with some of the leading European musicians of the age including Evan Parker, Maggie Nicols, John Russell and Lol Coxhill. In the 1980s and 90s Peter Urpeth expanded his music career into journalism and artist management, becoming a music editor at Time Out magazine when it was the second highest selling consumer magazine title in Europe, and manager of the internationally renowned South African township pianist, Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim). In 1989, Peter Urpeth organized the first UK tour of South African township musicians in the Apartheid era, bringing Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekaya to play 13 sell-out nights at London’s Jazz Cafe, to considerable critical and political acclaim.
In the 1990s Peter Urpeth started working in music in theatre, performing live music to Steve Berkoff’s Fall of The House of Usher and winning a Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe for a musical with Donald Swann (Flanders & Swann). Later he would compose and perform nine further shows at Edinburgh Fringe before starting to write drama for stage performance. He was a regular performer in pantos, including accompanying Barbara Windsor in various seasonal melodies. As a journalist, Peter continued to cover the European and US new music scene, and he had international success with (front cover features for Jazz Hot, Paris, Jazz UK etc) his interviews with New York jazz musicians including John Zorn & Geri Allen, and a few articles that came from spending 8 days flat sharing in the company of young, unknown graphic artist Matt Groening.
Fiction and poetry quickly followed the interest in drama, and in the mid 1990s Peter’s poetry was first published in journals and magazines. Peter moved to Scotland and became a freelance arts journalist for The Herald and The Scotsman whilst working as a housing and homelessness advisor for Shelter. Peter’s interviews with traditional Gaelic singers began appearing in leading folk and world music magazines in the late 1990s, including regular front cover features for Folk Roots and The Wire.
In 1999 Peter became the editor of the Stornoway Gazette and a feature writer for The Observer. In 2002 Peter founded his own local newspaper, The Hebridean, selling it to its rival title two years later.
In 2003, Peter Urpeth was awarded a Scottish Arts Council Writers Bursary and in 2006 his first novel, Far Inland, was published by Birlinn Polygon. In 2004, Peter became Talent Development Manager for HI-Arts, the arts development agency for the north of Scotland, developing Emergents Creatives after its closure.
In 2012, Peter Urpeth delivered one of the 100 Nights for John Cage concerts – the international celebration of composer John Cage’s centenary – and a performance that was broadcast live from Stornoway to New York, and was heard by over 750,000 radio listeners in the States.
Peter Urpeth is currently working (with comedian Stewart Lee) on a biography of the jazz musician Evan Parker, and self-publishes digital poetry pamphlets. Recent music activity has included two major commissions for new scores and performances to silent, b&w vampire movies (Nosferatu and Vampyr) as part of the Faclan Festival.