Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and pursue a career in music?
It picked me, I couldn’t keep away from the piano and when I hit my early twenties I realised I had to compose, and knew it would take a good few years to write anything I could say was original. It actually took 9 years to eventually compose eleven minutes of music that I rate; my first piano suite which is a set of seven miniatures. After that, the door was open.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
Edward Hopper, Ansel Adams, observing children set free at the piano, Rachel Whiteread, Carsten Hoeller, Dr Martin Coath’s emails to me about the speed of thought in the brain, Hussein Chalayan’s ideology that drives his designs, the passing of a close friend and musician and remembering him in a piano suite – these were all triggers, one by one, for my eight piano suites.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
It’s unimaginably difficult to get other people to play your work which is fairly usual (so many of my predecessors only started getting played after their deaths), although my work is played now more than it was – it ebbs and flows. It’s hard to get it to take off. I’m more interested in composing than promoting so I run out of time to promote my books. I spend less time than I would like on promoting my books because my composing and teaching take priority. So I would say the greatest challenge is ongoing; getting my work further into the repertoire and into the hands of many more concert pianists.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Always the next one.
Favourite pieces to listen to?
Bill Evans playing ‘Symbiosis’
Who are your favourite musicians?
Martha Argerich is high up in my list and I loved seeing her daughter’s amazing and intimate film about Martha: ‘Bloody Daughter’.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Maybe the one where around 5 and a half people came. I was in a tiny chapel in Hamburg, My show included films and as there was no screen, they were projected onto the amazing and antiquated wallpaper, creating the sense of a one-time-only atmosphere never to be repeated but perhaps everyone would remember on a particularly deep level.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Once you find your path, never step away from it; no matter how hard it is, do not compromise. Be brave and keep reaching out!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve spent the last year creating “Now You See It” – a composer’s response to living in the age of climate change. It’s scored for piano and an orchestra of words featuring the voices of activists and innovators at the frontline of climate justice. I worked with co-producer Christian Dymond, researching and interviewing a number of activists around the world; then I created a word based composition using extracts from the interviews and set that within piano composition. It has its premiere in London in March and is going to Hebden Bridge Piano Festival in April, will be on at Markson Pianos Concert Series in October, with more dates coming in.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
On a planet that has switched to renewable energy or NO energy.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Walking to my next gig; that’s when I most feel in my element.
Lola Perrin performs at Hebden Bridge Piano Festival on 18th April in a programme which culminates in her “Now You See It” – a multimedia project featuring solo piano with a sumptuous cloud film by visual artist Roberto Battista, and pre-recorded words captured from international activists, climatologists, inventors, writers, and oil rig workers; voices from the frontline of our global climate conversation. “Such a brilliant idea!” George Monbiot
Further information and tickets here
Lola Perrin is a London-based, USA-born composer, pianist, publisher, and Composer-in-Residence at Markson Pianos.
She has been composing since 1992 and performs her compositions on mainland Europe, in the UK (including works for 2, 4 & 6 pianos at Lang Lang Inspires, Southbank Centre) & USA, and has published over 70 piano compositions in 8 books, distributed via Spartan Press. Commissions include silent film scores performed at Barbican, BFI Southbank and Peninsula Arts in Plymouth. She collaborates in performance with writers (including Mihir Bose & Sue Hubbard), scientists, artists and film makers.
Lola Perrin has been taken into the repertoire by concert pianists including; Elena Riu, Kevin Robert Orr, Paul Cassidy, Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble, LP Duo, Duo Gastesi Bezerra, Carles and Sofia. Her technical exercises, commissioned by Trinity College of Music, can be found in their 2015 – 2016 Piano Syllabus Grades 3 & 4.
As an increasing number of pianists and piano duos take up her piano works she is turning her attention to instrumental works. Elysian Quartet and Carlos Lopez-Real have performed her string quartet and saxophone work. Sarah Watts commissioned ‘Her Sisters’ Notebook’ (ten bass clarinets) for Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival 2011 and played it at Irish Royal Academy 2014. Simon Desbrulais and Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble have taken up her forthcoming Suite for Two Pianos, Trumpet and Narrator. During 2014 two instrumental works (String Quartet & Saxophone, Wind Quintet & Choir) are due to be rehearsed / performed in London.
She has been interviewed and reviewed by various media including Berliner Morgenpost, BBC Radio 3 and local stations, The Guardian, Lyric FM. Her recordings appear on radio playlists and occasionally on broadcast TV, are on general release and can be found through digital sites including iTunes (CDs: Fragile Light’, ‘By Peculiar Grace and other loves’). She also works as a private piano teacher. Pianist magazine ran an interview, June 2014, with her piano student Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, in which Lola made a sneak appearance.
As well as various composition projects, she is also currently transcribing ‘Concerto in C Minor’ by Helen Hagan, a forgotten 1912 virtuosic masterpiece still in the composer’s hand, and creating a concert programme around it.