PETER CALANDRA
The Road Home
(Peter Calandra Music)

 

In 2015, NYC-based composer / recording artist Peter Calandra released his First Light album. Peter follows that impressive recording in 2017 with another album of all new music called The Road Home. Orchestral soundtrack music, the all instrumental ten track album is enhanced by a vocal song featuring singer Joy Askew. A native New Yorker, Peter Calandra has earned his musical reputation by scoring music for fifty movies as well as composing over two thousand compositions he’s done for television. The overall sound of The Road Home is very New Age based with just the right amount of soundtrack music influences. In addition to being a fine showcase for his wide-ranging musical ideas, The Road Home also shows Calandra to an inventive musician who skillfully performs on piano, melodica, synths, acoustic guitars and percussion. Speaking about creating The Road Home while comparing it to his 2015 album First Light, Peter Calandra tells mwe3.com, “A few things led me in a different direction. My wife and I took an eleven-week cross-country and back road trip in the summer of 2016. While on this amazing trip, I was able to write a bunch of sketches inspired by some of the beautiful sites we saw and explored. This album has more ambient and jazz influenced music than First Light does.” The Road Home is another deeply relaxing album of meditative instrumental music magic crafted by the versatile imagination of Peter Calandra. www.PeteCalandraMusic.com

 





mwe3.com presents an interview with
PETER CALANDRA


mwe3
: What’s new in New York? I guess we’re making our way to towards some kind of fall like weather, I hope as it’s been hot as blazes in Florida. Is the city bustling like usual and what streets do you live near? Are you still teaching at Queens College Aaron Copeland school of music? What’s new at Queens College and what courses are you teaching this semester?

Peter Calandra: It’s actually been not too hot this summer here. There were very warm days for sure but there have also been plenty of days with air conditioning not needed. I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and the city has seen an explosion of construction projects over the last few years.

Yes, I am still teaching at ACSM at QC. This fall I am teaching an advanced Audio/MIDI class for the full semester and then will be teaching Jazz Arranging, Jazz Analysis and Music Business classes, all graduate level, one third of a semester each. Basically the total hours comes out to teaching 2 full time classes. Looking forward to it.

mwe3: The last time we spoke a couple years ago you said you were thinking of a piano trio album with some guests so I guess The Road Home took a different path musically. What other musical activities over the past two years led to The Road Home and how would you compare it to your 2015 album First Light? It’s a truly brilliant album that holds up after dozens of spins. Were any other musicians playing on The Road Home?

Peter Calandra: A few things led me in a different direction. My wife and I took an eleven-week cross-country and back road trip in the summer of 2016. While on this amazing trip, I was able to write a bunch of sketches inspired by some of the beautiful sites we saw and explored. The next bit was that I had a month off from both teaching and film projects between mid December 2016 till mid January 2017 and it was the only time I would have had to get an album recorded before this summer. So I worked long hours for a month and completed some of the sketches and reworked some film cues I thought worked well to finish up the album. This album has more ambient and jazz influenced music than First Light does. The only other person on The Road Home is Joy Askew singing on the song “The New Dawn”. Also Ken Freeman helped me out by finishing the mixes and mastering the album.

mwe3: The cover art of The Road Home is quite evocative too. Did you have something to do with the artwork? We were sent the CD. How would you compare the digital market for music compared with actual CDs and are you selling the CD on amazon or just the mp3 files and where do you see digital music going in the future?

Peter Calandra: I’m a pretty self-contained artist. In addition to writing and playing multiple instruments, I also can engineer, sequence and mix. This also pertains to the artwork as well. I took that photo on my phone last summer in Utah one morning during a run. I treated it in photoshop to give it a bit of an oil painting feel and added the text as well.

I sell CDs on CDBaby and mp3’s on iTunes and Amazon. I sell many more downloads than CDs. CDs are still needed as that is what many broadcasters still want. Plus they sound better than mp3’s.

mwe3: Like First Light, the new tracks also have a great cinematic like soundscape effect. You say in the past you have reworked different cues from movies you’ve done soundtracks for. How did these tracks on The Road Home evolve and are they all recently composed and recorded? Do you have a lot of music in the vaults?

Peter Calandra: What I would add is that “The New Dawn”, “Morning Dove” and “Night Into Day” were 3 cues from films scores that I reworked and rerecorded to fit into this album. Over the last 20 years I have written more than 2000 tracks for films, television and albums. I do have quite a bit of unreleased film music sitting in my hard drives but reworking them would be more appropriate for TV and Film licensing than for album music.

mwe3: There’s some excellent piano work on the album. What was your piano of choice on The Road Home and what instrumentation did you use to get the sweeping synth orchestral sounds? Were any guitars used on The Road Home and has there been some new developments on the gear side of your music these past two years and what can you tell us about your studio that you recorded your latest music in?

Peter Calandra: Thank you. I am a Yamaha endorsed artist and own a Yamaha DC7 conservatory grand piano and that is what is on the album. For the orchestral sounds I use a combination of analog and virtual synthesizers, orchestral sample libraries by companies like Spitfire, Orchestral Tools, Cinesamples, Strezov Sampling etc… I play every note in and the sweeping effects come from going back and drawing in MIDI CC’s to control and animate different facets of the sounds.

Yes, there are guitars on the album. I used a Stratocaster on “The New Dawn” for the shimmering guitar sound, my Guild Jumbo and Martin .0001 for all the acoustic guitars. My studio is pretty well stocked with gear and I can write and record almost everything here. The only time I have to go out has been for some of the sports themes I have written when I need to record a large ensemble.

My studio is Pro Tools HD based with a Focusrite Red 4Pre interface. There are several Mac Pros networked together to power the set up. I have probably 20 or 30 terabytes of sample libraries, and quite a large list of plug-ins for mixing and sound creation. I also have a bunch of analog synths by Moog, Oberheim and DSI. Of course there is the DC7A and a bunch of electric and acoustic guitars, several great guitar amps and a very nice mic locker. I have been developing this setup for quite some time and add a few items each year.

mwe3: Did you have some sonic parameters when making the new album and how do you get a good balance and consistent volume for an overall album?

Peter Calandra: The main thing is that I wanted the album to be warm and the music to take the listener on a journey in each song and also from track to track. Orchestration, arranging and harmonic choices help to add the emotional depth to the music. As far as balance and volume that is what mixing and mastering are for.

mwe3: Tell us about working with Joy Askew on some tracks. How many tracks did Joy sing on The Road Home album? How did you meet Joy and does she live in New York?

Peter Calandra: Joy has sang on my last 3 albums. On The Road Home she is only on “The New Dawn”. She lives out in Brooklyn and I have been a big fan of hers since the early 1990’s when she used to play with her band down at CBGB’s. We met in 2010 when I hired her to co-compose and sing the theme song for a film I was scoring called Rise. I value our friendship as her singing adds an amazing depth to the music I write. Plus she’s a nice person as well!

mwe3: Are you releasing a single or a specific track for radio and what tracks from The Road Home are you pitching to radio? Is radio the best bet to bring your music to the most people and how challenging is it to try to get airplay all over the world? Do you have a favorite foreign market where your music does well? Are you planning any concert or concerts in the future?

Peter Calandra: The best outlet for this kind of music is either to get on Sirius Spa or Watercolors or on Music Choice Soundscapes. These stations have a fairly large audience and are on 24/7. There is virtually no terrestrial radio market for this music. What I have done recently for all my albums is to go back and remix and edit the music to create TV and film-friendly versions of the track to try and get some licensing. As an example, earlier this year I licensed out the song “Open Your Heart” from First Light to Ernst and Young to use on a TV campaign for their Women’s Global Empowerment initiative. I am currently getting some companies to represent some of the music for more placements like this. As far as live gigs go, I am not sure that is something want to pursue. I have done over 7000 gigs in my 30 plus year Broadway career and am a little burned out on gigging.

mwe3: Have you gotten good reviews in Asia or Europe? I would think they would love to hear the remarkable album The Road Home. What else will you be doing this year? Summer is flying on by. Any future musical plans shaping up for future recordings or new collaborations?

Peter Calandra: It’s still too early to know much about the overseas reach of The Road Home. As far as the rest of the year goes, in addition to my teaching schedule, I am currently working on a TV campaign for a local hospital and have the Kennedy Center Honors coming up in November and a 60 minute documentary on the Equal Rights Amendment I might be scoring starting in mid December. That’s a full plate right there!



 

 
   
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