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First Light

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Customer Reviews

Review excerpt from Music and Media Focus

With over 25 years of playing keyboards in major Broadway productions and 15 years of composing music for Hollywood films and network TV, Peter Calandra brings a level of experience that many musicians only dream of to his latest album, First Light. Above all, Peter is a storyteller in song and his music lifts the listener out of their everyday world on an imaginative flight of fantasy. Blending new age, neo-classical, and smooth jazz influences, Peter’s creative compositions are as emotionally evocative as they are technically brilliant, striking the perfect balance between form and feeling.

Listening to the first track, “Open Your Heart,” Peter’s experience as a film composer is evident in the way he builds his composition. Beginning with a simple piano melody set against a metronomic marimba sequence, the piece evolves to a point then comes to a pause before jumping into a whole other space accompanied by a powerful string section composed of violin, viola, and cello, before elevating to the next level, and then back down once more.

As the title of “Night City” implies, there is an upbeat urban feel to the music that pulses powerfully along. Its’ definitely not your dreamy new age vibe, even though the music falls into the new age category. However, the “dreamy new age vibe” is alive and well on a serene soundscape entitled “Valley Of Two Lakes.” There is a real fantasy atmosphere created in this piece and a hint of Celtic influence with flutes, harp, celestial female voices, and more. The yin yang relationship represented by this track and some of the earlier upbeat pieces highlight Peter’s range as a composer.

A lot of musical territory is illuminated in First Light. Each composition is exquisite, yet just as impressive as the overall piece, is the attention to the smallest details heard on closer listening. I don’t know how many “wow” moments I had throughout the album, but they were numerous. Peter’s skills in arranging are among the best I’ve heard. And I would be remiss if I did not direct the spotlight to Peter’s accomplishments, not only as a pianist, but also as a multi-instrumentalist. There is a degree of professionalism in Peter’s music and production that places him in the highest echelon of artists that I have heard in the new age genre. Before I run out of superlatives, I will just say that I am beyond impressed with Peter Calandra’s efforts on First Light.

From MainlyPiano

"First Light" is the very impressive follow-up to composer/multi-instrumentalist Peter Calandra’s 2014 "Inner Circle." With a lifetime of experience working in many different areas of the music and entertainment industries - including playing keyboards for major Broadway productions and composing a wide variety of music for movies and television - Calandra’s composing versatility is nothing short of amazing, as his musicianship and depth of emotional expression. Even though the music on "First Light" covers a lot of musical territory, the album as a whole carries a consistent mood of warmth and optimism. Peter Calandra is an artist who defies classification, effortlessly merging genres and styles to create a unique musical voice that is easily accessible but also substantial enough to stand up to many listens, revealing new facets each time. Calandra is featured on this album as composer of all of the music and performs on piano, keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, synth bass, acoustic percussion, percussion programming, and sequencing; he also engineered and co-mixed the recording, AND did the album artwork! He is joined by a large group of guest artists playing strings, flutes, oboe, percussion, and choir on some of the thirteen tracks.

"First Light" begins with the buoyant and joyful “Open Your Heart,” perhaps the most radio-friendly track on the album. Don’t get me wrong - this is not ear candy. It’s just such happy music that I can’t imagine anyone not loving this piece! “Night City” is my favorite track. Although the rhythm is lively and often driving, there is a sense of mystery paired with a sense of magic - this one catches my breath every time! The title track begins very lightly, gradually building as it evolves. Flute, oboe, and voices evoke feelings of optimism at the start of a new day. “Sunset Sky” has the piano front and center with strong percussion and choral voices - more musical magic! “Valley of Two Lakes” is another favorite, this time in more of a new age/ambient style. Very smooth and gentle, flute, strings, voices, and keyboards paint a picture of serenity and beauty. “Keep the Faith” is a lively piano solo that reminds me a bit of Michael Dulin. I love “Inner Secrets,” a haunting piano piece with lots of reverb that gives it a mysterious feeling and keyboard washes and enhancements that add color and atmosphere. “Sunrise Over New York (2015)” is a trio for piano, bass, and percussion. Smooth and uncluttered, it expresses the peaceful magic and quiet hush of early morning. “The Poet” closes this outstanding album with a smooth jazz piano solo.

"First Light" will most certainly be on my list of Favorites for 2015 and should reward Peter Calandra with many new fans. He’s the real deal! I give it my highest recommendation!

Fade in

There are some tracks on this record that are absolutely wonderful and then there are some that are simply fantastic! I'm speechless to describe some of them really! The welcoming sounds of 'OPEN YOUR HEART', the varied tones on 'THE DREAM' and the soft, far away feel of 'INNER SECRETS' are something so deep to describe. I also loved the title track 'FIRST LIGHT' with its soft, luminescent appeal and 'THE POET' which has a tinge of a searching feel about it! Wonderfully fantastic I'd say, for want of a better word!

First Light, Peter Calandra
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Customer Ratings