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About CRW (in depth)

Colin Richard Waller    (known as Colin R. Waller) is a British Composer, Conductor and Educationalist from London UK.  Born April 1954 in Forest Gate, East London his father Frank Waller (often known as Tony) was a Record Producer and part-time choirmaster and mother Veronica Waller (nee Cossey) a medical clerk. He attended Greengate Primary School then, having passed the 11 plus exam (on an age technicality), Plaistow Grammar School. However most of his music ability is attributed to the Newham Academy of Music, a local authority extra curricular music centre and being recruited by the then Teacher in Charge, concert pianist Edward Parker. Colin used to sit with “Ted” on the organ seat of his local church and where he was inspired by the great sound of this magnificent instrument. Out of the blue Ted turned to the young Colin and said “we have just bought a new French Horn, would you like to have a go at playing it”? The rest, as the saying goes, is history! As a young teenager he learned to play the horn (With Edmund Codling), then later the piano (with Ted) and percussion (with the legendary George Scott), and he penned his first composition at the age of 13 which was played at a student concert in the “Academy Hall”. At the NAM he matured as a player ending up as Co-Principal Horn of the Youth Symphony Orchestra flowing which he was exposed to the joys of European concert tours of Denmark, Germany and Gibraltar an experience of which he remembers fondly. It was also during these formative years that he first attempted an orchestral composition with a “Romance" for Viola and Orchestra (soloist Andrew Fotheringham) which was played by the NYO. Other works from this period include a Sinfonietta dedicated to the NYO and given its first European Premier on one of their tours. It was also in the NYO that he started dating a very beautiful co-principal cellist who ended up as his wife, Pauline!

Trinity Years

In 1972 Colin gained a place at the prestigious London Conservatoire “Trinity College of Music” (now Trinity Laban, one of the famous four in the UK capital). At TCM he studied Horn (with John Burden - Principal Horn CBSO and MFO, and most notably The Beatles "Sgt Pepper" Album), Percussion (Michael Skinner - Principal Percussion Covent Garden), Composition (Richard Arnell) and Conducting (Bernard Keefe - Conductor and BBC broadcaster). He earned his Licentiate Diplomas as a Horn player and Conductor & Arranger in 1975 and was conferred with a Fellowship as a composer in 1976 by composer Arnold Cooke. He often remarks that these four years were four of the most memorable of his life shaping him with all that it takes to be a musician.

Early Performing & Teaching career

In 1976 Colin was given his first professional playing break by Musical Director Paul Leddington Wright in a months repertory run of Joseph (ATATD) at the Marlow Theatre Canterbury where he played for some of the UKs top actors who were then also just starting out. He also started as a peripatetic Brass & Percussion teacher with the music services of Havering, Redbridge and Newham. In 1978 he decided, for income security, to undertake a years course at the Trent Park College of Middlesex Polytechnic thus becoming a QTS teacher. It was at Trent Park that, with his enthusiasm to ensure he had first hand knowledge of as many instruments as possible, led to him study all the members of the brass family with Peter Gane (then Bass Trombone with the LSO) and becoming self taught in electronic music (synthesisers and programming, then in its infancy), Guitars and Bass Guitar plus adding Drum Kit to his skills as a percussionist! Once qualified as a teacher he was appointed at the Newham Academy as a teacher rising through its ranks to eventually become its Head of “Light” Music, a title which shows the attitude of the time to anything which wasn’t “Classical” music. As such he was the founding MD of the Newham Academy Jazz Orchestra and an associate conductor of the Youth Symphony Orchestra the highlight of which was a complete performance of Holst’s “Planets”, no mean feat for a Youth Orchestra. Following a move to the outer areas of London he became the founding Musical Director of the Southend Youth Symphonic Wind Band, an area extra curricular ensemble bringing together some of the superb musical (Wind, Brass & Percussion) talent in the Eastern area of Essex. He was also an associate conductor of the Southend Youth Orchestra.

It was in these early years that Colin found himself working with the likes of Sir Cliff Richard (Gospel Concerts), Jean Michel Jarre (“Destination Docklands” in the Presence of the then Diana, Princess of Wales), Bryn Haworth, Alexander John and the Biggles Band (John Dorsett and Brian Spencer Smith). He toured extensively with his own bands working in the field of the then embryonic Christian Music Scene ending up in “Crosstalk” and playing alongside Bass Guitarist Rob Meek and the legend that was drummer Bob Armstrong. During this time he also worked as a freelance MD for BBC TV “Songs Of Praise” working as MD for the notable edition “From the East End” and “The Bull Ring” Youth edition.


West Country move!

1999 saw a major change in direction for the Waller household with a move to the West Country as Director of Music & Worship at the prestigious “Upton Vale Baptist Church “ in Torquay. This led to the formation of the Icthus Orchestra and a series of concerts “Bay Praise” with visiting celebrities from stage and TV including comedians Peter Goodwright and Cannon & Ball.

With a reputation for innovation in music education now firmly established it was not long before Torbay Council approached Colin to become a Music Development Coordinator for Children's Services (in 2006) leading to the establishment of the highly respected “Torbay Schools Festival of Performing Arts” and the “Westward Symphony Orchestra” the later of which was to specialise in giving school children the experience of a full symphony orchestra concert and for most their first taste of live orchestral music. This orchestra was notable for its membership being made up of retired members of the UKs leading professional orchestras with its standard of playing being similarly superb! He became heavily involved with Youth AMDRAMS at Palace Avenue Theatre, Paignton and was MD for such productions as Les Miserables, Westside Story, Fame, 13, Our House , Hairspray, and Footloose.


Ill health led to early retirement from education in 2012 and it was not until 2014 that he returned to the music fraternity as Conductor of the Royal Navy “Britannia Royal Naval College” Vol.Bands (a Military Band, Marching Band, Big Band and Corps of Drums) a period of his life, and with many friends, he remembers with great affection for their musical ability and their friendship. On leaving the Royal Navy he was to be awarded with the “Captains Award for Excellence” by the then Captain J.R.A. Woodard RN, an honour, rarely given to a musician, and one that he particularly treasures.


Sadly his time at Dartmouth was brought to a premature end in 2018 following Colins wife's (Pauline) diagnosis of Colon Cancer. Whilst in itself the cancer was successfully treated following surgery and Chemotherapy it became apparent that all was not well with her recovery and after 4 years of tests, re-tests etc they received the devastating news that she had a rare and unusual form of Alzheimers which was to rob her of all cognitive functions both transmitted and receptive. So he withdrew from all music activity to concentrate on her care which became 24/7, however Pauline lost her battle and past away in May 2023.


Composing & Songwriting

As a student of English composer Richard (Tony) Arnell Colin has written a considerable amount of music across many genres, including two symphony's, two concerti (one for horn and the most recent for cello) several concert overtures, a wealth of music for Military band, and many songs of a more modern pop nature.

As a “classical” composer Colin has tended to work in traditional genres. His Fellowship of Trinity College of Music London, F.T.C.L. drew very gracious comments from UK composer Arnold Cooke (a contemporary of the "English tradition") and which has remained a constant encouragement in a world of emerging atonalism (which is not a criticism) .  His early music follows this English tradition with the influence of Cooke, Vaughn Williams, Holst and others, but it then changed drastically from the time of his move in 1999 to the West Country. His output of the 1980s and 90s is far more basic, overtly harmonic and non-dissonant but by the two thousands he found himself settling into a style which would become a more comfortable genre. If this mature music shows the modern influences of Walton and Shostakovich, it is also still leavened with the English sense of lyricism that is RVW and company. In a recent article posted on social media he comments "my music is a part of my existential being and no longer do I seek the approval of others to it being relevant to its success or failure. I write because I have to, my soul cries out and my music as such is a response. To quote the great Jimmy Page music is not a competition its a sharing”! “The only One I write for is He who made me and gave me what limited gifting I may have in order to converse with Him. Anything else, for me, is secondary!”

His output of orchestral music lies alongside a massive number of pop/rock songs written for various bands but heavily influence by his spirituality which by now is mature and a major part of his life. In these genres he has written two musicals, two cantata/celebrations, and a video track. In 2017 his Rock Anthem “Long Live The King” received its premier at the Royal Albert Hall London under the baton of Dr Noel Tredennick and his music has been featured on both Radio and Television. In 2018 his stage musical “Something Beyond The Star” was given its premier run at the Palace Avenue Theatre Paignton.


One of Colins great joys is the high number of students who have come under his influence as a teacher or conductor and then gone on to a successful career in either the professional or semiprofessional arts entertainment professions. These include: audio and sound engineers working with leading R&B artists and ITV/BBC programming, an award winning MD for a leading UK R&B artist/gospel singer, an actor/singer who has appeared in a leading ITV Soap, a band member in George Michaels Band “Wham”, four current members of His Majesty’s Royal Marine and Army Band Services, approximately  six who are freelance session players, seven senior teachers teaching music and other subjects, and at least a dozen or so who are working in the semi professional music industry at a high level.


Colin has been a spiritual person for most of his life and was baptised as a (Baptist) Christian when he was 18. It is only in his later years that he prefers not to tag himself with any denominational label and his more mature spirituality was to have a greater influence on his musical output. He was married for 43 years to Pauline who was also a musician (54 years including dating) and they have two children Adam & Joanna (also successful musicians) and currently 3 grandchildren Elliot, Bella and Penny and its not so surprising that they all share his musical genes. He refuses to back any one political belief believing there is too much “back room” influence in the major protagonists.


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