Born in Welshpool in 1926, Oliver Bannister first studied the flute with Henry Wilson, a well known theatre musician and later with Joseph Lingard at the Royal Manchester College of Music. From 1943 he played second flute in the Hallé Orchestra until being appointed principal in 1945. He played first flute at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden 1963-1986.
He used a Rudall Carte Boehm system flute, made in 1916, throughout the whole of his career. During his Hallé years he appeared as soloist with the orchestra on numerous occasions. He played with a rich and beautiful sound complemented by a brilliant technique.