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 hes 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
Whats new in New York? I guess were making our way to
towards some kind of fall like weather, I hope as its 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? Whats new at Queens College and what courses
are you teaching this semester?
Peter Calandra: Its 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? Its
a truly brilliant album that holds up after dozens of spins. Were
any other musicians playing on The Road Home?
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: Im 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 mp3s 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 mp3s.
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 youve 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?
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: Theres 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 CCs 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.
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?
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 1990s when
she used to play with her band down at CBGBs. 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 shes 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 Womens 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?
Calandra: Its 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. Thats a full plate