1. When did you first realize you were a composer?
I have always been a creative, imaginative person, and from the age of 5 or 6 would sit down at the piano, and then the cello, and just play my own music. I was improvising, even though I didn't know the word for it at the time. During my early years, I liked to make up my own music, mostly composing short pieces and pop songs, and often sat at the piano playing a game I called "Modern Music", in which I would freely improvise atonally. I guess you could say I "officially" thought of myself as a composer when I entered the Manhattan School of Music as a composition major and started having my classical chamber music performed in student concerts.
2. Who were some of your early influences? Who are some of your current influences?
As a child, my parents took me to Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts and NY Philharmonic concerts on a regular basis, so my early influence was one of exposure to classical music. There was always music in the house, primarily recordings of classical musical and musical theater (in addition to my own playing). My current influences and inspiration come from myself and my own every day experiences. I draw my material from my life.
3. How has you music evolved over the past few years?
I would simply say that my music is getting better and better. I am composing more than I ever have, and having many more performances of my work. Technology has been very helpful in this regard, as the internet has opened up the world, making it easier to connect with performers to play my music. Also, music notation software certainly is most helpful with the practical factors involved in being a composer, as it saves lots of time that can now be spent creatively.
4. How has your being an active cellist affected your compositional style?
As an active cellist since age 11, I have played in orchestras and chamber ensembles all along the way. The cello is by nature a lyrical instrument, and my writing IS very linear. I do favor counterpoint, and melodic writing. From the time I was in my high school orchestra, I would go to the Lincoln Center Library and take out the music scores of the music I was playing, study the score on my own and, and bring it to rehearsals. If the teacher/conductor allowed, I would follow along with the score in the rehearsals. I was never satisfied just playing the cello part, and quickly realized being on the inside of the orchestra is a great way learn orchestration, counterpoint, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, etc.
5. What is your favorite type of ensemble to compose for?
I like to compose for mixed chamber ensembles, for example, containing a few strings, winds, and brass. I enjoy maximizing the timbral aspects of the mixed colors, as that is a major part of my creative expression.
6. Who are some of your favorite players to compose for?
I like to compose for musicians that I play with and know, and that I can trust to do their best to be true to what I have composed.
7. When you decide on a project like In the Moment, what draws you to such an idea? Do the literary images suggest the music or vice versa? How important is narrative in your music?
This may sound like a cliché, but my inspirations come to me. I do not use literary images per se. I usually do start with a particular feeling and visual of the musical form, which may be thought of as my internal narrative, however abstract it may be. For example, I typically know the mood of the piece, which dictates the tempo, dynamics, colors, number of movements, harmonic language, and motives that will generate and form the entirety. I have always been a creative person, and ideas flow easily.
8. Tell us how Rhapsodance came about. How about Illuminations of the Night? Are these pieces pure music or is there a literary or narrative angle to them?
When I started Rhapsodance, I knew I wanted to write a fast, "happy" piece in one movement.I sat down at the piano and started with what I used for the opening and kept writing from there. The initial sketch of the piece was through-composed, and upon "completion" I went back to rework sections that needed improvement.
Illuminations of the Night was actually inspired by the energy and rhythm of the lights of NYC at night as I looked out of my midtown apartment window at night.
Again, there is no literary angle to them, although the narrative can be interpreted as my own thoughts, somewhat abstract.
9. Do you have any plans to record your music?
Not at the moment, but I am certainly open to having my music recorded and when the opportunity presents itself I will seize it.
10. What does the future hold for Peri Mauer? Is there a sort of dream project that you would like to be able to create?
We shall see what the future holds! Basically I want to keep writing more and more music for different ensembles, and getting the best possible performances for them with maximum exposure. I do not have one specific dream project in mind, but if an opportunity comes my way that generates an inspiring idea, you can bet I'll go for it!
Visit Peri Mauer online at http://www.musicianspage.com/musicians/7821/ and http://www.instantencore.com/contributor/contributor.aspx?CId=5138769.
Read a Sequenza21 Interview with her at http://www.sequenza21.com/2012/02/all-hustle-and-bustle-for-peri-mauer/ and visit her YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/perimauer1.
Hear her Morning, Night, & Noon, for 2 clarinets at
Hear Afterwords, for clarinet, cello, and piano at
Rhapsodance, for clarinet and piano
Winter, for flute, clarinet, trumpet, viola, cello
Pixeliance, for flute, harp, and marimba