You may not know the name Peter Calandra, but chances are you’ve heard his music. The New York City-based composer and keyboard player has scored 40 films, written over 2000 compositions for television broadcast, including 37 theme packages, and performed as a musician in the Broadway productions of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, The Phantom Of The Opera, The Lion King, and Little Shop Of Horrors. Parallel to this, Calandra has released three albums of imaginative and lyrical instrumental music encompassing jazz, contemporary jazz, classical, and refined pop.
“I’ve always heard music in my head—there is like a radio in there playing new music all the time,” says Calandra.
Calandra has garnered acclaim for composing music for Jellysmoke, a film which won the Los Angeles Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, and Unknown Soldier, a film which won the Los Angeles and Philadelphia Film Festivals and also was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He’s scored music for every major television network; currently, he has the themes for 15 shows airing on four different networks. Calandra’s resume as a live performer includes first chair keyboard player positions for the Broadway productions of Miss Saigon (for 10 years), The Phantom Of The Opera, and The Lion King. He’s also toured nationally with Les Miserables and served as the pianist/conductor and musical director for the award-winning original NYC production of Little Shop of Horrors. On the bandstand and in the studio, he’s worked with the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra, NY Pops Orchestra, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Susan Anton, Don Cherry, Aretha Franklin, Allen Ginsberg, Annie Golden, Donna McKechnie, Lillianne Montevecchi, and he spent 16 years as the keyboard player in the NYC-based Climax Band, the creative vehicle for artist and musician Larry Rivers.
His prismatic artistry allows him to authentically inhabit a multitude of genres, conjure up a diverse selection of moods and emotions, and work within a broad array of mediums. “I don’t try to define anything because I find that, as a creative person, when you put something in a box, you limit the creative flow,” Calandra says. In addition to his keyboard and compositional skills, he is also an accomplished guitarist and multifaceted studio engineer versed in the arts of tracking and mixing. Currently, he’s on the faculty at Queens College, CUNY teaching masters level classes on Pro Tools sequencing and music technology.
Somehow, Calandra also finds time for personal creativity. His fourth solo album, Inner Circle, showcases pianist/composer/arranger Peter Calandra’s talents across a wide swath of music styles, always with his trademark sensitivity, abundant technique, and spot-on attention to detail. Working with an outstanding assortment of guest players on acoustic bass, violin, viola, cello, oboe, flute, piccolo, fretless electric bass, and vocals, Calandra explores myriad sonic landscapes, easily navigating from jazz to fusion to pop to classical with uncommon grace, ease, and a rich sense of melodic accessibility without sacrificing depth of emotion. Of Calandra, Mark Hasan of kqek.com wrote “Calandra’s writing is very deft…he shows a strong sensitivity for subtle emotional conflicts and the fusion of contemporary jazz, fusion, and light orchestral” and Music Web International’s Demetris Christodulides wrote “Peter Calandra is…an impressively capable composer, with broad musical horizons.” In reviewing Calandra’s previous release, Ashokan Memories, Tom Lohrman stated “Inner Circle is a testament to Calandra’s inventive approach to composing across multiple genres while retaining a signature sound which never fails to entertain.”
“Inner Circle” features:
Joy Askew: Vocals and Vocal Sampling (Solo artist as well as Peter Gabriel, Joe Jackson, Laurie
Anderson, Rodney Crowell)
Tom Barney: Acoustic Bass (Credits too long to list but a partial: Miles Davis, Steely Dan,
Whitney Houston, Lauren Hill, Sonny Rollins, David Sanborn)
Ralph Farris: Violin and Viola (Ethyl String Quartet, Joe Jackson, Lion King Orchestra)
Kathy Halvorson: Oboe (American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Opera
Orchestra Of New York, Toronto Chamber Orchestra)
Kathleen Nester: Flute and Piccolo (New Jersey Symphony, St Luke’s Orchestra, Orpheus
Ensemble, Faculty NYU)
Peter Prosser: Cello (Willie Nelson, Chris Botti, Robert Plant, Jimmy PAge, Cleo Laine, Shirley
Bassey, Faculty New School)
Stomu Takeishi: Fretless Electric Bass (Henry Threadgill, Myra Melford, Erik Friedlander,
Pete Calandra: Piano, electric keyboards, percussion, as well as all digital sequencing and