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Concert Pianist and Music Professor Produces Solo Album Featuring Westminster Faculty Composers

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Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2018

Music professor and concert pianist Dr. Nancy DeSalvo produced a solo CD with recorded works by faculty composers Dr. Daniel Perttu and Dr. Jason Howard. The process required years of practicing the composers’ sonatas before the recording date and multiple stages of editing. However, after working on the CD for over three years, DeSalvo finally released it on Feb. 9. 

DeSalvo sat down with junior public relations major Megan Simpson for a Q&A session about her new album and career.

MS: Can you please tell me a little bit about the contents of the album?

ND: Jason Howard wrote his sonata for me. The sonata is a collection of "Short Shorts." There are nine short contrasting pieces.  A couple of them are less than a minute in length. The last one is called "Not so Short Short" because it is composed of a sampling of all the motives of the previous eight. Some of these are lyrical, some are like dances (tango), some are collections of sounds.

Dan Perttu's sonata is a three-movement work. The first movement is fast, the second movement is slow, and the third movement is fast. This sonata is considerably longer that Jason's sonata and much more complex. Dan likes to write pieces that have many levels of melodic lines. The texture of his music can described as thick and orchestral sounding.

MS: I was told that some pieces are inspired by Stonehenge. How were you able to channel that into your playing of the pieces?

ND: Only Dan Perttu's sonata was inspired by Stonehenge. The music has lots of big, loud gestures that help with the interpretation. Dan's style of composition is very precise, so I just had to follow his directions to achieve the sound he was after.

MS: What's your favorite thing about playing the piano?

ND: Playing the piano is my outlet for expressing what I feel. Some people sing; some dance. I play the piano. It's what makes me feel free. In addition to playing solo pieces, I can also accompany other musicians and share the music. Playing chamber music is the best.

MS: What's your favorite piece on the album?

ND: That's a difficult question. I actually have two favorites. I felt a particular connection to the third "Short Short" by Jason Howard, and I liked playing the third movement of the Perttu Sonata. The third movement of the Perttu Sonata is a perpetual motion piece. Once you begin, you are flying until you finish at the double bar. It's so exciting.

MS: If you were to pick a musical instrument to represent you as a person, which would you pick and why?

ND: PIANO. The instrument is versatile. You can play melodies and accompaniments at the same time. You can make it expressive because you can control the dynamic level. It can sound like an orchestra, full and rich or it can sound simple and sweet. The range is awesome.

DeSalvo’s CD is available for download on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Parma Recordings, Naxos. 

Written by Megan Simpson