CL028: Film composer Pete Calandra on telling a story through music

Pete Calandra is a New York based composer and keyboard player. He has scored over 50 films, written over 2000 compositions for television and film broadcast, and performed as a musician in the Broadway productions of Miss Saigon, The Lion King, Les Miserables, and Little Shop of Horrors.

His most recent album is called First Light, a recording of instrumental music encompassing new age, jazz, classical and refined pop. As a keyboard player he has performed with Aretha Franklin, Allen Ginsberg, and Dee Dee Bridgewater and when asked about the wide range of genres his music covers he said “I don’t try to define anything because I find that, as a creative person, when you put something in a box, your limit the creative flow”.

In this episode of The Creative Life Podcast, Pete talks about working on two great projects on ESPN and writing music for 6-8 bio films for Invictus games. Pete shares with us his experiences on playing in bar bands and playing all sorts of music from top 40, when he was 16 years old. Pete also tells us about how he started writing for TV and Film.

“Try to create something that’s unique. Don’t be try the next John Williams. Try to be the first you.”

“Learn technology as an instrument.”

– Pete Calandra

Pete Calandra Show Notes:

  • Staying sharp and interested in what you are doing (10:10)
  • Film-making as a collaborative project (13:36)
  • The big part of his job in creating music (14:10)
  • Writing for ESPN Film about Pat Summit (14:56)
  • Composing for the backstory (16:31)
  • How to communicate with a film director as a composer (18:02)
  • How to get hired as a film composer (20:00)
  • Music in service of the story (26:13)
  • Playing jazz with Allen Ginsberg (26:30)

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