“I can hardly believe how beautiful is your playing of my song…It’s the very best bass sound I’ve ever heard!”
Jeremy Lubbock - Grammy award winning music producer, composer and arranger
London based musician Tom Walley is a versatile double bass and bass guitarist known for performing and recording music of many genres. Since the age of 18 he has worked with the London Philharmonic Orchestra winning a position within the bass section in 2018.
Alongside his work with orchestra, he has an extensive list of over 100 film and TV recording credits with blockbusters such as The Hobbit, 1917 and TV series including Downton Abbey and The Crown. Tom’s West End musical theatre appearances include Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera and The Book of Mormon. His work with artists of many genres ranges from Norwegian singer songwriter Sigrid to Grammy award winner Derrick Hodge and virtuoso drummer Marcus Gilmore.
Tom’s social media channels showcase videos of him playing from his home studio, where he also records remotely when commissioned for other projects.
As of 2022 Tom is completing a masters degree in jazz and improvisation at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama under a number of tutors including Simon Purcell, Tom Farmer and Robin Mullarkey.
In his spare time Tom is an advanced motorcyclist with a love of travel and Triumph motorcycles.
Tom comes from a family of musicians - in fact he is a 4th generation bass player. His father is a well-known session Double Bass player and his mother was a professional singer and now teaches singing and works as a clinical hypnotherapist (lifeperformancehypnosis.com).
He started playing the Double Bass at the age of six after playing the Cello for several years before. He joined the Junior Department at GSMD (Guildhall School of Music and Drama) and studied with Cathy Elliott (London Mozart Players) for thirteen years. He attended Glyn Technology School in Epsom where through playing in jazz and rock bands he discovered a love for different styles of music on Bass Guitar and Electric Guitar.
Tom also took lessons in Classical Guitar at Junior Guildhall with Chris Eden and Gary Ryan. Guitar playing is now just a hobby (mainly because the long nails kept getting broken by bass strings!) but he continues to play Bass Guitar professionally.
He was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain between 2004/2005 coached by the late Corin Long, Principal Bass of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. One particularly memorable performance of Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony in the Sage, Gateshead made Tom realise that he wanted to concentrate on studying to become an Orchestral Double Bass player so in 2006 he went to study full time at GSMD on the BMus course. Even though he was enrolled in the classical performance course he also spent a great deal of time in the Jazz Department attending tutorials and masterclasses and playing for student parties in the Union Bar. In his second year he became a founder member of the highly successful London party and function band Pandora's Jukebox.
His main teacher at Guildhall was Kevin Rundell, Principal Bass of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and he also had lessons with Tom Martin, Steve Watts and Jeff Clyne. Whilst studying at GSMD, Tom became enthusiastic about expanding the Double Bass repertoire and he included in his ambitious final recital his own transcriptions of Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata and Beethoven’s “Spring ”Violin sonata.
During Tom’s first year at GSMD he became a regular double bass extra with the LPO and has since played with the orchestra in London and all over the world, and every summer down at Glyndebourne. In 2018 he was appointed as a full time member of the double bass section.
Other noteworthy achievements in the orchestral field include a Principal Bass trial with the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast and a trial for Sub-Principal of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In addition to this are regular invitations to play with all the other major London Orchestras and regular studio work for film and television recording.
Some career highlights include performing with Derrick Hodge, Marcus Gilmore and the Cuariem Quartet in the Dutch Double Bass Festival, Beethoven Symphonies with Kurt Masur at the Royal Festival Hall and playing the National Anthem for the Queen on board “Symphony”, the last of 1000 vessels in the flotilla for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations both with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, playing on the pitch at Wembley Stadium for the 2013 FA Cup Final, recording Howard Shore’s sound track for the 2012 film “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, performing at Carnegie Hall, taking part in the 2016 Proms production of Boris Godunov with Bryn Terfel and the orchestra of the Royal Opera House and finally playing (also singing, crying and snoring loudly!) live in a sextet on BBC Radio 3 with comedy duo Igudesman and Joo.
In 2010 Tom purchased a John Lott bass. The bass previously belonged to the late Corin Long who had been the double bass tutor for the NYO when Tom was a member.
Away from the Bass, Tom is a motorcycle enthusiast. He
currently rides a 2017 Triumph Tiger Xcx which replaced his first bike, a 2015 Bonneville T100.
When he has time Tom enjoys drawing and painting, particularly portraits and animals.
Due to Tom’s extensive touring experience with orchestras he has developed a love of travelling. This includes motorcycle trips around England and mainland Europe as well as scuba diving in the Caribbean and even Iceland.
Photography by Lauren Knuckey