Composer / Conductor  Coleridge - Taylor  Perkinson

A Conversation with Bruce Duffie


Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Versatile Musician, Dies at 71

Douglas Martin   The New York Times    March 13, 2004

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, a composer, conductor and pianist who combined styles from the classics to jazz to create sonatas, concertos and symphonies as well as scores for movies and television, died on Tuesday in Chicago. He was 71.

The cause was cancer, said Rosita M. Sands, director of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, where Mr. Perkinson was artistic director of the performance program.

His career took him from the concert halls of Europe to the jazz combo of the drummer Max Roach, and he did arranging for Marvin Gaye, Harry Belafonte and Melvin Van Peebles, among many others.

Mr. Perkinson, known as Perk, was a co-founder and musical director of the Symphony of the New World in New York, and was its acting music director during the 1972-73 season.

At various times he was composer in residence or music director for the Negro Ensemble Company, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company and the Dance Theater of Harlem and for productions of the American Theater Lab, among others. He was guest conductor with many orchestras.

Mr. Perkinson called composition ''written improvisation.'' Bernard Holland wrote in a review in The New York Times in 1988 that his ''String Quartet No. 1'' ''identified with some precision the compatibilities of French impressionism and jazz.''

The International Dictionary of Black Composers says he explored ''the extremities of the sound spectrum,'' using odd metrical signatures and other methods, and notes that he placed ''widely spaced accompaniments against closely woven voices à la Stravinsky.''

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson was born on June 14, 1932, in Manhattan, and was named for Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a black British composer and conductor who gained recognition in the 1890's. After graduating from the High School of Music and Art, where he shared the LaGuardia Prize in Music with the soprano Reri Grist, Mr. Perkinson attended New York University.

He then transferred to the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees, studying with Hugh Ross, a prominent choral director, who introduced him to Stravinsky and other musical luminaries. Mr. Perkinson also sang as a baritone soloist in New York churches.

He taught at Brooklyn College from 1959 to 1962 and was director of the Brooklyn Community Symphony Orchestra, an affiliate of the school's music department. In the summers he studied orchestral conducting at the Mozarteum in Salzburg. In the mid-1960's he played in the Max Roach Quartet and later worked with Mr. Roach as an arranger and conductor.

His film scores include ''A Warm December,'' a 1973 movie starring and directed by Sidney Poitier.


His classical compositions have been recorded by the Chicago Sinfonietta, the flutist Harold Jones and others.

In a 1973 review in The Times, John Rockwell described Mr. Perkinson at the podium as a ''tall, brooding man, he conducts economically and persuasively.''

Mr. Perkinson is survived by his daughter, Joettè Thompson, of Kansas City, Mo.; his sister, Beverly Perkinson Thomas of Houston; and two grandchildren.

==  Photo and link added.  Names which are links on this webpage refer to my interviews elsewhere on my website.  BD  



We met in his office in downtown Chicago in April of 2002, as I was preparing a program for WNIB, Classical 97, to celebrate his seventieth birthday.  Having spent his life moving easily back and forth from the film and jazz world to the classical world, his responses to my questions showed a depth of knowledge and experience unlike most other musicians I had interviewed.

Here is what was said that afternoon . . . . .

Bruce Duffie:   Does it please you to have a number of pieces available on compact disc?

Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson:   It pleases me very much, but I would love to have a lot more available.  [Vis-à-vis the recording shown at right, see my interviews with William Brown, and Tania León.]

BD:   You and every other composer!  [Both laugh]

Perkinson:   I was going to say, I have no monopoly on that!  But yes, it’s very pleasant when someone chooses the music to record just based upon the music.  They have no knowledge of my person.  That’s quite flattering, and that’s happened on a couple of occasions.

BD:   Are we getting to the point where it’s no longer music of black composers, but just of composers?

Perkinson:   In my case yes, at least in some instances.  I can’t say that it’s never that, because there is that identification with my ethnic background.  For the CRI recording, it was just composers.  As a matter of fact, they called and told me they were recording a piece of mine, and they had a bit more room on the disc, and they’d like to include something else.  They chose the Piano Sonata, and it was included.  Actually, my favorite performance of that was done by a pupil of Natalie Hinderas.  It was at a competition, and this young man walked out and played it.  It was the first time I’d heard the work played live, and I was very pleased and amazed.  When I later received the tape and got to hear it again, I just thought,
Wow, this is really exciting.

BD:   What about that made it special?  He just
got it?

Perkinson:   Natalie and I had sat on panels of the planning session for the endowment, and she simply asked me if I had anything, and I said, “Here’s a piece that you might like.”  So, at one of the sessions I gave it her, and forgot about it.  Then, this young man, who was a pupil of hers, came out and performed the work, and what made it special for me was that it was a performance, and not someone playing for a microphone.  Somehow there is another level of intensity.  I’m not saying that people who record cannot arrive at that, but this was a young man who was quite involved with the piece.  I may question whether or not it was accurate in some of things that I indicated, or if he overlooked some of the things, but the overall performance was very exciting.

hinderas Concert pianist Natalie Hinderas was born Natalie Leota Henderson on June 15, 1927, to parents Abram Henderson and Leota Palmer Henderson in Oberlin, Ohio. Hinderas came from a family of accomplished musicians.  Her great-grandfather had been a bandleader and teacher, her father was a jazz pianist and bandleader who had toured Europe with his band, and her mother was a piano instructor at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She married Lionel Monagas and the two had daughter Michelle in 1964.

Hinderas started learning the piano at age three and had her first full piano recital when she was eight.  She debuted with the Cleveland Women’s Symphony Orchestra in 1939 at the age of 12, and was the youngest person ever to graduate from the Oberlin Conservatory’s Special Student’s School in 1945 with an honors degree in music. She won an audition for and attended the advanced study program at the Julliard School of Music in New York. Hinderas studied under prominent musicians at Julliard and continued her studies at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music from 1948 to 1953.  [Note from another source: One of her teachers at Juilliard, Olga Samaroff (who had changed her surname from Hickenlooper), convinced Natalie Henderson to change her name to the more exotic Hinderas.]

After finishing at the Philadelphia Conservatory, Hinderas made her European debut and got a position with NBC-TV to make guest appearances on network programs. She gave televised recitals and concerts abroad as well, traveling to Austria, England, Germany, and Italy in 1957 and 1958.

Hinderas was committed to exposing new audiences to classical music and went on a four month tour with the U.S. State Department in 1959 to Northern and Central Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, giving concerts and lectures on American music; she went on another State Department tour in 1964. In 1966 Hinderas was hired as a faculty member at Temple University College of Music, where she taught and toured other colleges and music festivals. She began a tour of black colleges in 1968 where she performed music by black composers and gave lectures on African American classical musicians. As a consequence of that work, she recorded and released the album “Natalie Hinderas Plays Music by Black Composers” in 1971.

Hinderas became the first black woman to appear as an instrumental soloist in the regular series of a major U.S. symphony when she played with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the fall of 1971. She then went on to play with a number of major orchestras across the nation.

Hinderas spent much of the rest of her life performing and giving lectures and programs on African Americans in classical music. She passed away on July 22, 1987 in her home in Philadelphia after suffering from cancer.

==  From website, January 31, 2013, by Victoria Bishop  


See my interviews with George Walker, Hale Smith, and Olly Wilson


BD:   How much detail and clarity do you put on the paper?  Do you want them to get everything exactly right, or do you leave them a little leeway?

Perkinson:   Rightly or wrongly, I choose to let them have leeway, and this is a problem that I have.  I am not equating myself with the great masters.  I may strive for that but I’m not that.  But if we look at a Bach manuscript, there are no markings.  It says piano or forte, and what you find is that if you spend time with the music, it will reveal itself to you.  Then you will find a way of interpreting it that reflects your understanding of the piece.  No one can claim that it’s not the way the piece goes.  Even the composer can’t say that.  So, I choose to put as few markings as possible, but then I have to be prepared to accept what comes back.  [Both laugh]  In some cases it’s been quite a surprise.

BD:   A good surprise or a bad surprise?

Perkinson:   Most of the time, good.  Part of that comes from my having spent a great deal of time in the recording industry
the pop, or jazzwhere the musicians bring a lifetime of experience to the things you write at that recording session.  That’s why they’re chosen to be a part of the ensemble, and they generally know what you mean by what you have written.  If they don’t, they might change the articulation from what you sang for them in the recording studio.  I’ve said to people, “No, no, play the first note short,” and they would say, “That’s not what you sang!”  I’ll then say, “You know how it goes, so play it the way it goes.”  They understand what I mean better than my ability to put it down.  Sometimes you’re in a great hurry, and there isn’t time to do it, but that’s why you hire these people who have this expertise.

BD:   Is this what makes a great musician
someone who really understands you almost without that penciled communication?

Perkinson:   That’s a part of it, certainly.  This is assuming that they bring technical mastery of their instrument, and knowledge of stylistic differences
if you’re writing a period piece, or if it’s simply contemporary music.  I’ve had musicians look at a piece and say, “Oh yeah, I see what you mean,” and then they play something that has my jaw hanging on the floor!  A small case in point... there was a piece for television called Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, a play by Lonnie Elder.  It has a saxophone solo that was the theme of the piece, and the musician who played it gave it the shadow notes that I hadn’t written in.  He simply understood that that’s what it was about.  If what was on the paper was [sings plain notes], and he played [sings jazz idiomatic notes], I couldn’t have been happier.  [Both laugh]  We recorded this in New York, and I was in Los Angeles by the time the show was released for television.  I got a call from Rolling Stone Magazine.  They tracked me down, and said, “We would like to know who the saxophone player was on the film score.”  I’m not used to people calling to find out who played the music on a film score, but I was grateful that they asked, and that they thought so much of the music to make that inquiry.  I told them it was Seldon Powell, and they asked, “How much of it was Seldon, and how much of it was you?”  I said, “It was all me, and it was all Seldon.”  [Both laugh]  I have three hours generally to get the film score done, depending upon how much music there is, and if a musician doesn’t bring his understanding to the playing of this music, we’d still be in the studio.

BD:   That’s a real collaboration.

Perkinson:   It really is, and they asked that because it sounded like somebody was just playing, and that it was not a composed line.  That’s the best compliment that I can get regarding my music
that it sounds as if someone is just playing or improvising.


Seldon Powell was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia on 15th November 1928, but spent much of his life in Brooklyn on Long Island. He worked with just about every major name from Don Redman to Woody Herman, from Benny Goodman to Count Basie, from Buddy Rich to Chet Baker. 

While his main instrument was the tenor, he became proficient on all the saxophones, to which he added clarinet, flute and piccolo. This versatility stood him in good stead when jazz gigs became scarce, and he found ample employment in the pit bands of Broadway shows, and in the busy television and recording studios of New York. He also enjoyed the very different demands of classical music, playing with orchestras and chamber groups.

In later years he was largely known for his excellence on the baritone saxophone with numerous studio ensembles, where his ability to rapidly read the most difficult chart was a valued asset. Truly, Seldon Powell was the complete musician. However, jazz listeners will remember this talented player as a forthright, swinging tenorman with a personal sound and style of his own. 

His death in 1997 at the age of 68 deprived jazz of a highly accomplished saxophone and woodwind who laboured creativity - but with scant recognition in the music scene - for some forty-seven productive years. He spread joy whenever he played.

BD:   How can we get a classically-trained string quartet, or a solo clarinetist to do that same kind of thing?
Perkinson:   They do that same kind of thing.  Were that not the case, we would only need one definitive recording of any piece.  Each brings a different understanding, or appreciation, of the music that they approach.  For classical, we can hear Rosalyn Tureck’s Bach, and we can hear Glenn Gould’s Bach.  Everyone plays the repertoire, and they each bring something different to it, and if it’s honest, it will always seem fresh.  No one, I don’t believe, plays it exactly the same way twice, and it’s criminal if they do.

BD:   This brings up a basic question.  Should the music that you’ve heard over the years exist on flat plastic, or on the printed-pages, or should it exist in your mind, and your heart, and your memory?
Perkinson:   There is a problem that I have, and I imagine everyone has this experience, that the way you hear a piece the first time is the way it goes from then on, and whatever else you hear done to that piece, it’s in comparison to that first hearing, because that’s your understanding of the music.  If that first hearing is really indelible in your memoryand for some things it is that way, but for others it isn’thow should it exist?  It’s a problem for me because I’m a conductor, and having internalized some pieces, when I hear other performances of them, or different performances by other individuals, I may agree or disagree.  The music is still there on the page for anyone to pick up and learn if they’re involved in the craft of performing.  Whether or not that’s going to work as a reference for all future times, it’s difficult for me to say.  It has to exist both ways.  I would not want to take away some ways that I feel about performances that I’ve heard in the past, even though in a few instances, having learned the music and performed it, or attempted to perform it, I have changed the way I think the music went because I later felt that wasn’t necessarily as true an interpretation of what the composer meant.  It was just different from what I understood.

BD:   If you perform it this year, and you perform it ten years from now, you will grow and change?

Perkinson:   Hopefully, yes, because one has to.  That’s why you go back and perform it again.  When you see a piece and you perform it that first time, that is your definitive performance at that time.  When you come back to it, you see those things that you saw before, but you see more because already that’s a part of the past experience.

BD:   Is that what makes a piece of music great
that it can grow along with the performers?

Perkinson:   That is one of the things that makes a piece of music great.  I wouldn’t say it is the only thing, but one of the things is that it can change, it can grow, and it alters each time you hear it.  Let’s say it’s a piece that is sad, and it is called lamento.  So it’s a lament, it’s a sad piece.  It’s sort of morose, but is it smilingly sad, or is it just sad?  There are different kinds of sadness, and depending upon what your approach is to it this time around, you discover some things in the music which were there before, but are details that you didn’t see.  I had done the Sibelius Second Symphony a few times, and the last time that I performed it
which was a quite a while ago nowI marveled at the fact that I was in South America.  I’d prepared for it, but I was there, and I had done one concert and was about to do my next series.  I can only study the piece in my hotel room, since I didn’t have an instrument, but because I was working at it so hard, I began to see something else that Sibelius had done.  All of a sudden, in the third movement I saw that he used a Bach idea, and that completely escaped me the first time.  I only knew what the notes were, and this time I thought, “Oh my gracious, that’s been there all along, and I missed it!”  Did that make the piece change?  Of course, it made the piece change for me.  There are also things in Wagner that I remember when I was performing with the Dallas Symphony. 

BD:   You say that you find this in Sibelius and in Wagner.  Do you find this in Perkinson?

Perkinson:   I don’t usually get to redo my pieces.  A lot of the work I’ve done has been for film, or for a ballet that’s used recorded music.  I get to do it that one time, and I don’t get to go back to it.  For the few opportunities that I’ve had to perform ‘classical pieces’ that I’ve previously done, I try to learn as much as I can.  In answer to your question, yes, I have learned things about some of my music that I didn’t know were there.  This is a part of my training, my craft, that got me over this particular problem without my having to labor at it.  Then when I go back, I say,
Gee, I didn’t know I did that!  It’s wonderful that I didn’t labor at it, that the skill was there, but I was unaware of that having been the case because I was dealing with something else at the time.  It wasn’t a problem that I was trying to solve, so I can say to a degree, yes.  That’s a hard question to answer.

BD:   Then let me ask a real easy question.  What’s the purpose of music?

Perkinson:   I’ve never thought of that.  What is the purpose of art?  [Thinks a moment]  Probably to please the senses, but I don’t know that I have a good definition for it.  I know why I feel that it’s purposeful, that there’s a good purpose.  It is said that we know who a people are not by virtue of their accomplishments in scientific endeavors, but by how they spend their leisure time.  That reflects the nature of a person, or a society, and the things that will help reflect that society are the kinds of art and music that comes from it.  It depends on whether that music is a mirror, or is in opposition to what that society is.  As we got the alienation of romanticism, starting at the beginning of the twentieth century with Schoenberg and serial technique, we need to ask if they wanted to get away from the problems of that new century, because that’s from the mindset of the nineteenth century.  If this is who we are, then let’s change it, and if that’s what music is all about, and we’re going to be these kinds of individuals, then let’s change the nature of music.  So, the purpose of art is to reflect.  It can help us know ourselves and those things that we find distasteful, and thus we change them, while those things that we find acceptable and applaud we try to perpetuate.
*     *     *     *     *
BD:   A couple of times we’ve gone back and forth between the music that you call jazz or film music, and classical music.  Should we try to bring those together, or are we making an artificial line between them?

Perkinson:   It depends on who the composer is.  For myself, without exception I feel that every film score I’ve done is a symphony.

BD:   For you it must all come together.
Perkinson:   Yes, it’s the same process.  I generally find a theme or an idea that’s acceptable to the producer, because that’s the guy whose is going to pay the bill.  [Laughs]  He’s got to be pleased, or this isn’t going to work.  Once he’s pleased, then one of the things that I try to do is see if you can tell what the story is if you listen to the music without seeing the picture.  You don’t need the words in the opera.  That’s my approach to film writing.  I’m not saying that everyone does this.  There are film composers whose work I really admire, and I know they write from a different perspective.  Yes, we have to make the scene.  That is the purpose of the music in the film, but I also need for the music to be connected from one scene to the next.  It has to be something that says, “The music goes this way because this is the personality, and therefore we’re using that theme to reflect their thinking.”

BD:   [Gently protesting]  Yet it’s not music that connects it, but the dialogue and scenery that connects the pieces of music.

Perkinson:   All of that, exactly.  But then there are those composers who would simply write this for this scene, and that for that scene, and they make each scene work.  The only time that you are aware of this is if you take the picture away and just play the music.  I’ve seen composers who have been very successful, but I don’t think that much of their music.  They are good film composers, but they simply don’t write from the same perspective that I do.  I don’t differentiate between film music and jazz.  When I was much, much younger, that was what I was taught.  I learned that there is no difference between the music that comes from a jazz musician, or a folk musician, or a classical composer.  There are only two kinds of music, good and bad.  So, it’s either good folk music and good jazz and good classical, or bad folk music and bad jazz and bad classical.  The type of music, the genre does not qualify as being one kind of music being superior to another.  It may require other attributes, or other involvements, but for us to put a label on it to say that this is better than that by virtue of its genesis is a wrong attitude.

BD:   When you sit down and write a piece in whatever style you’re using, a decision has to be made later that it’s good or bad.  Do you try to write it to be good, or do you have to wait until it’s done to see if it is good?

Perkinson:   Both.  Yes, I’m trying to make it good as I’m going along.  That’s why I make the decisions that I make as I’m working on it.  Then one gets to a piece which is finished, and you ask, “Do I like it?  Is this what I meant to say, and does it work?”  There have been occasions when I’ve gone back and changed things, though not many.  I work fast, but sometimes I’m not working so fast that I can’t see it as I’m going along.  I can remember one piece that I was working on.  I was in Los Angeles, and I had a commission for a piano sonata.  I had no access to a piano, and if you’re in Los Angeles, there is a ‘social life’.  If you know certain people, you’re expected to be among them.  I wasn’t around a lot, and I remember being at a party and someone said, “Oh!  You’re here!  Did you finish your piece?”  I said, “Yes, yes I did.”  He then asked, “Do you like it?” to which I said, “Well, I’m here!”  He was really asking if it was a good piece, and I understood later on why he asked me that.  In their end of the industry, especially in television, you didn’t have the opportunity to rehearse and do a lot of things.  You could move bodies, if that was your directorial function, and you weren’t always pleased with what you came up with because you simply didn’t have time to do it.  So yes, you would be finished with the product, and whether or not you liked it, or even approved of your own productivity was questionable.  But when they asked me that, my answer was yes.  I can remember with this particular piece that I knew the end.  I had placed that page on my right, and I also knew how far I’d gotten, but not how to connect it all.  That was my problem with this piece, and there were days that I didn’t write at all.  It would take me a long time to find out where I was in the piece, because this was a serial piece, and my inner ear had a lot of adjusting to do.  I honestly didn’t know where I was, because even though it is serial technique, I have a tonal center in my mind.  Yes, the notes are there, but no, they’re not equal!  They gravitate towards this place or that place.  Anyway, it took me a lot of time to understand where I was when I stopped and went back to it.  I remember staring at this page on my left for about three days before I eventually realized that the next measure was the one that was on the page on my right.  I didn’t understand it, and eventually I knew it was just to put these two together and the piece was done.  I didn’t know for the longest time that I had finished it.

BD:   You had to grapple with it?

Perkinson:   Yes, grapple, because it wasn’t apparent that I was through.

BD:   Coming back to the story about being at the party, when they asked if you were pleased, could you not make them understand that as a composer, you have to be pleased before you stop?

Perkinson:   [Thinks a moment]  I don’t want to say anything bad about the film industry or the television industry, and what goes on with it there, but there are other parameters that dictate what your behavior may or may not be in that circle.  I can remember being in Los Angeles, and as soon as I would finish an assignment, I would be running back to New York.  People would say, “Why do you want to go back to that terrible city, that dirty city?”  But New York was my energizer.  Believe me, the demands that they make on you in Los Angeles are quite something.  It’s that way about the music.  The producers don’t care whether or not the music has a logic to it or not.  They only care whether or not it makes the picture work.
BD:   They just want it done?

Perkinson:   They want it done, and they want it to express the common feeling for the predicament that’s on the screen.

BD:   Does that make the music disposable?

Perkinson:   [Thinks a moment]  It can be.  Let me put it this way.  I was asked to do a film, and the producer/director came to me after hearing some of the music.  He said, “It’s wonderful music, but we have a problem with the film.  There’s a red herring in this scene, and what we have to do is make that particular thing apparent here.  This is what I want you to do,” and he described what he wanted it to be.  He said, “I want you to look at it, and listen to the music that you’ve written for it, and if you think that music says that, then leave it.  But if it doesn’t, write something else for me.”  He didn’t demand it.  He left it up to me.  Obviously, I thought what I had written worked, but when I thought about what he wanted that scene to do, I said, “I have to write another cue.”  I agreed with him that it did not do that particular thing, so that part of the music that was written for that scene was disposed of.

BD:   He’s the director, so he has the final say on what works and how it all gets put together.

Perkinson:   He was the producer and the director!

BD:   Then my question comes back to when you’re writing a piece of music for a concert, are you then the producer and director?

Perkinson:   I’ve never looked at it that way.  I’ve never put that hat on in reference as a composer.  There are things that I’ve written which have been done in haste, so I feel as though they’re incomplete.  I had to let them go the way they were.  One example was music for a ballet, and the dance had to be mounted, so I had to continue.  We didn’t have the time, nor the money, to go back and re-record some of this.  In the concert world, or in the jazz world, it’s the same thing.  They’re walking on stage and they’re playing.  I recently wrote a piece for a group called Baritone Nation, which is a group of four baritone saxophones, led by Hamiet Bluiett, who was also a member of the World Saxophone Quartet.  This is jazz-orientated music.  Hamiet came to me and said he wanted me to write something for the group.  We were in a studio, so I recorded it, but before the guys even played any of it, and before he heard what I wrote, he said, “I want you to play the notes in the lowest position on your instrument,” which just turned the music all upside down.  In my mind I’m questioning it, but part of what he does is to come to a composer like myself, and even before asking for something for the group, he has ideas in the back of his mind that he’s going to use, and I have to have the flexibility and ego intact enough to allow him to take what I’ve done, and do something else with it.  That’s the same thing you have to do with any piece of music, even though they’re playing it as best they can the way you wrote it.  The interpretation differs, and in that case, had I not been there I wouldn’t have recognized my piece.  One has to have this tolerance to the extent that what you do is pliable until it’s pulled out of shape.  Normally, to the extent that the piece can stand it, it’s a fine piece.

BD:   Some pieces are more pliable than others?

Perkinson:   Things can be taken so far afield that you might not recognize them as being what they were.  There’s a frame of reference for playing Mozart, as there’s a frame of playing music from any period.  If you step too far outside of those boundaries, it becomes peculiar.


BD:   Are you part of a lineage of composers that are marching through history?

Perkinson:   I would hope to be.  I cannot give myself that label.  I’m sure you are aware of the great disclaimer that Bernstein made to the audience when he and Glenn Gould did a Brahms concerto.  It just went too far afield for him, which is not to say that Glenn Gould’s performance of it was peculiar.  I was listening to it on the radio in the middle of the night, and I couldn’t tell if it was the orchestra, or the pianist, or the conductor, but it was peculiar.  At the end the disclaimer was made, and I said to myself that it’s the performance because it was not Brahms as I understood Brahms.

BD:   Was it Brahms as Gould understood it?

Perkinson:   It was Brahms as Gould understood it, against Bernstein.  When you have a like mind, or a kindred spirit performing, you can convince an audience, or a listener, that yes, it does go that way.  But if you are at odds with one another, that very well may have been the problem of that performance that I heard, because I kept thinking this is really strange!  It wasn’t working.  One of the things that I pride myself on is that generally I can listen to a performance of a piece, and I can say if it’s a younger or older conductor.  I don’t know what the attributes are, but I hear the difference in comprehension of the music.

BD:   You’re hearing the maturity?

Perkinson:   I don’t know all the time, but I think I can hear it.  I know that it is a more recent recording of whatever the work is, or it was that conductor when he was much younger.  It varies.  The problem of being a creative person is that first one has to struggle with acquiring your craft, and be able to express that which you want to give forth.  One does appreciate being appreciated, and the approval of our colleagues or our audiences is something that we all would like to have... and it isn’t always forthcoming for whatever reasons.  But a part of being an artist is for that.  It is not an
ivory tower, or a concept of I am the greatest, and it doesn’t matter what you may or may not think of my product.  It is for the appreciation.  We don’t perform in vacuums, or for ourselves to sit down and hear it played back to ourselves, and the world be damned.  How one comes to grips with that is not easily discernible, but I know that it’s a problem we all have, whether we want to admit it or not.

BD:   In the end, are you optimistic about the future of music?

Perkinson:   Oh, yes.  In the past, music’s taken some turns that were not readily acceptable or understood.  I’ve experienced those periods, or some periods in music where it was politically incorrect, or stylistically incorrect or correct to be a part of this camp as opposed to that camp.  Generally what happens is that the fads wear themselves out.  You can jump on a bandwagon, and sometimes it begins to age, and it doesn’t wear well.  There is music that is much older that we still listen to, but there’s some music that you know got on the bandwagon of the time, had its ‘hurrah’, and we choose generally not to play it anymore.

BD:   Is that music which was not true to itself at its creation?

Perkinson:   I can’t say.  The composer might have been very serious about what he was doing, or he may have been misguided, but the truth of the matter is that the music does not wear well.  Sammartini doesn’t wear well!  Salieri doesn’t wear well.

BD:   Once in a while it’s pleasant to hear?

Perkinson:   I can’t say that!  [Both laugh]  What happens to me when I hear Salieri is that I know the Mozart piece that it came from!  [More laughter]  Recently I’ve heard some composers whose names I did not know, who were from a certain period, and had I not been told who they were, I would have attributed their music to someone else.  It was not plagiarism.  It was the essence of what was acceptable at that time.  It was well-written, and it sounded like, but wasn’t that composer’s contemporary.

BD:   So that piece of music had it, but they didn’t have the luck to have the presentation or the favoritism?

Perkinson:   Exactly.

*     *     *     *     *

BD:   You are about to turn seventy.  Are you pleased with where you are at this point in your career?

Perkinson:   Some of it yes, some of it no.  That part of it which is yes is because I’m here in Chicago working for the Center of Black Music Research.  I’ve created an ensemble called The New Black Music Repertory Ensemble.  Dr. [Samuel] Floyd called me and asked me if I was interested in doing this.  He described to me the work that I would be doing, and I didn’t believe my ear.  I questioned whether or not he understood what he was saying to me, because what it amounted to was so insane.  He said, “I want you to come to Chicago and realize your life’s ambitions, and I want to pay you for it!”

BD:   What a great opportunity!

Perkinson:   Yes!  Floyd continued, “Now there are limited resources, so we can only do so much of it.”  But in essence he was saying, “I want you to come and play music of black composers, and I don’t care which music it is, except that it has to be by black composers.  I don’t care what kind of music it is by black composers.”  Early in my life I wanted to have an ensemble that would not flinch were they to see music of Stravinsky, or Ellington, or Charlie Parker on the stand for rehearsal and performance.  It didn’t matter.  They would come prepared to play that music, and they would have the levels of expertise that would allow them to switch from this to that to the other... or if not that level of expertise, the willingness to approach this music and go with it.  What I was being offered was an ensemble to do that.  Our problem is that we have limited resources, so I can’t do as much of it as I would like.  There is some music I can’t even get to because the forces that are required are enormous, and we simply don’t have those resources.

BD:   So, your mandate for yourself is just do as much of your dream as you can?

Perkinson:   My mandate for myself was to strive for excellence.  That was something that was implanted early.  I certainly want to do as much as possible, but it’s difficult.  There are problems of programming.  Yes, it’s ambitious on my part to play some of this music that might be very entertaining and wonderful for me, but I do have to keep the audience in mind.  I cannot beat them over the head with my intellectual grasp of what it is we do, no matter how wonderful it is.  Even a composer whose work I admire may not wear well with an audience for whom this music is unfamiliar.  Most of this music by black composers is unfamiliar. 

BD:   Even in the black community?

Perkinson:   Especially in the black community.  They have no knowledge of some of these composers.  My last concert was ‘The Black Composer in the 16th to 18th Century’, so who?  A black composer?  Where?  When?  What?  What you’re going to find is that the black composer, although he lived in this time and in this particular place in the world, has a name like those people who lived in that place in the world.  He was of mixed parentage, so a black composer whose name is Vicente Lusitano, doesn’t sound very black by today’s standards.  But yes, he’s a black composer.  Then you play his music, and it’s almost unbelievable.  Or José Muarício Nunes Garcia who is from South America.  It’s a surprise if there were people of color creating at that time, but it shouldn’t be.  I must say that I have learned a great deal more about black music since I have been here at the Center for Black Music Research.  I thought I knew a lot, but I didn’t.  I have learned a lot about what I didn’t know.

BD:   That’s the old saw... if you want to learn about something, teach a course in it.

lusitano Vicente Lusitano was a sixteenth-century composer and musical theorist perhaps most famous for winning a public debate with Nicola Vicentino and for his important book on theory entitled Introdutione facilissima et novissima de canto ferma (1553). Although he has long been a well-known figure among musicologists, the fact that he was Black has been almost entirely erased from memory. Described in contemporary sources as a “pardo” (Portuguese for mulatto), he was likely born to a white father and a Black mother in Portugal around 1522. An ordained Catholic priest, he traveled to Italy, perhaps in the entourage of Portugal’s ambassador to Rome. There he made his name as a highly sought-after music teacher, although his challenging compositions and lack of a powerful patron made it difficult for him to advance his career. Somewhere around 1556, Lusitano converted to Protestantism and married before seeking refuge in 1561 at the court of the Protestant Duke Christoph of Württemberg and disappearing from the historical record.

Lusitano represents one of the spheres within which Black Europeans often found success: music. The fact that he was forced into the service of a provincial court and then was lost to the historical record points to the importance of patronage and politics for setting one’s life chances in Renaissance and early modern Europe.

==  Jeff Bowersox, from the website [text only - photo from another source]  

Also, from another source...  Lusitano was the first ever black composer to have his compositions published in Europe, in c. 1555.

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nunes garcia José Mauricio Nunes Garcia (1767-1830) was an Afro-Brazilian composer and organist who was the grandson of slaves. Over 240 works of music by Garcia have survived. Garcia’s mother was Vitória Maria da Cruz and his father was Apolinário Nunes Garcia, a tailor. Garcia was born in Rio de Janeiro on September 22, 1767. Salvador José de Almeida e Faria taught the youth music. A biographer, Manuel de Araújo Porto Alegre, wrote that Garcia sang beautifully, wrote music, and played the harpsichord and guitar without lessons. The biographer adds that Garcia taught music from age 12, and was educated in the Royal Classes.

Garcia wrote his earliest surviving work, “Tota pulchra Es Maria,” in 1783. He studied for the the priesthood where he collaborated with Lopes Ferreira, the chapel master. Garcia joined the brotherhood of Saint Cecilia as a music teacher in 1784. He wrote “Litany for Our Lady in 4 voices and organ.”  By 1788 he was composing anthems and acapella works for church services and two years later gained fame with his “Funeral Symphony.” Garcia was ordained as a priest in March, 1792. When the chapel master died in 1797, Garcia succeeded him.

When the Portuguese Royal Family took refuge in Brazil in March 1808, clerics who accompanied them tried to remove Garcia from his position because of his race. Garcia was then told to concentrate on composition. His works that year included the “Missa Pastoril,” the “Requiem Mass,” and the “Officium for the Dead.”

A Royal wedding in 1817 gave Garcia the opportunity to compose “12 Divertimenti” for the ceremony. In that year Garcia composed the first Brazilian opera, “Le Due Gemelle” (“The Two Twins”), which was destroyed by fire in 1825. Monteiro Neto also tells us that in December 1819 Garcia conducted the first Brazilian performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” (K 626). His last work was the “St. Cecilia’s Mass.” José Mauricio Nunes Garcia died on April 18, 1830.

==  William J. Zick, from the website  

Perkinson:   [Laughs]  That’s definitely it.  So this has been good for me being here, with the resources and the archival materials that they have.  My only regret is that I’m not going to be able to make a dent in my lifetime.

BD:   [Optimistically]  But you will cause many others to do the same thing, and they will collectively make the dent.
Perkinson:   Hopefully, that will be the case.  It’s as if I can’t do enough.  No matter how hard I work, I know I’m alienating some people.  Unfortunately, if that’s their response, I can’t play everyone’s music.  The programming being the problem that it is, the resources being the problem that they are, there’s a lot of music that I have to learn and put aside.  I marvel at it.  I will get a score of a composer, and write to him and say how wonderful his music is, but I can’t afford to do it.

BD:   Then do you give it to Paul Freeman, or to somebody else to do it?

Perkinson:   I very gladly pass the information on.  What I find is that other people have their agenda, and I am not
holier than thou to come in and say, “Listen, you should be doing this!”  If they ask, I’m quick to respond, but I don’t know that I will proffer advice unasked.  That could be misinterpreted.

BD:   I would think that there would be camaraderie amongst the black composers and black conductors to make sure that as much as possible can be done.  [To see a list of the black composers and performers I have interviewed over the years, as well as links to the transcripts, click HERE.]

Perkinson:   Among some of them, that is the case.  But, as in other societies or other groups, there are hostilities, and camps that exist among black composers or black creative people.  What I have found
black, white, or indifferentwas the larger the talent, the fewer problems there are.  So, when that does exist, it has its reasons for being there.  I can remember one young composer...  I was one of the few conductors who agreed to perform his music.  It was just laid out so awfully on manuscript that you had to struggle to understand it, to just know that this note over here, in the right-hand corner, went with this other note back in the middle of the page, because he didn’t line things up properly.  I remember him saying to me, “I don’t write melodies.  That’s not the way to approach my music.”  I forget what comment I made to him, but some time later, having seen the modicum of success that I had in Hollywood, he wanted to know how could he get to write film music.  I went back to him and said, “You don’t write melodies!  You don’t want to do this kind of music.  This isn’t what you mean to do now.”  I’m not saying that he was one of those people, but there were some hostilities among composers who were simply jealous of one another.

BD:   I was going to say, he was trying to jump on another bandwagon.

Perkinson:   He wanted this, but when you told him something about his music, he was difficult.  I was trying to give him constructive criticism, and I still admire what he did.  He’s gone now...

BD:   He obviously made an impact on you.

Perkinson:   Yes, favorable or unfavorable, he made an impact.  [Both laugh]  I remember speaking at his memorial service, and saying that I was glad that I was here, walking this planet while his spirit was alive.  When we are younger, the signals that we give out may not always express ourselves very well, and it may not always be understood as what we meant for them to be.  Being sure of oneself, or being uncompromising in something about music can be interpreted as arrogance.  I remember being in a social situation with a young woman whom I’d just met, and she said, “Well, you’re very arrogant!”  I said, “Yes, but I don’t hurt anyone!”  I resisted saying, “Yes, I’m very sure of myself!  I’m here to pick up some music from your friend.
 We discussed it, and she listened to the discussion, and she said to me, “How could you talk this way?”  He didn’t have a problem with it.  She had a problem with it.  I guess that was in her admiration for this person, or perhaps she wasn’t used to a black person expressing himself in the manner that I did.  Whatever the reason I’ll never know, except that I knew there was no intent on my part to be arrogant.  It’s all a part of who you are, and how you are affecting people.  But she’s going to carry that to another experience, and it’s going to have an impact there.  I remember telling people that I try to be careful about the words I use, so if someone comes back and says something about my response, I can retrace my steps back to what was actually said.  You have to be very careful about which words you use, and, unfortunately, we use the language very poorly.

BD:   [Sighs]  We’re often very sloppy.

Perkinson:   Yes, we definitely are.  Fortunately, what came for me with composition was about not wasting notes.  Earl Kim, with whom I studied at Princeton, would say things to me like, “Do you hear two B-Flats in that chord?”  I’d respond, “What the hell are you talking about?  It’s an octave. What do you mean do I hear two B-Flats???”  He continued, “Do you hear two B-Flats, or will one do?  Do you actually need both?”  This made me cut away all the fat, because when I first went to him to study I would write reams of music.  I got to the point where if I got four bars done in a week, it was a lot because I began questioning everything.  Did I really hear two B-Flats?  I don’t know.  I’d never thought about it before because it was just an octave.

BD:   You just threw them in?

Perkinson:   Yes, and you’re just burying them.  That was one approach.  Then there are other approaches.  I didn’t know you don’t hear two B-Flats.  What you hear is a reinforcement of the sound.  There are many explanations for why one would do a particular thing, but he pinned me down because he understood that my ear was sloppy just by looking at what I had written.  So, he tightened that up for me.  There are some pieces that I still allow to be played which I wrote before I studied with him, but I’m grateful for having had that experience.  I actually had gone to Princeton to study with Roger Sessions, who was very nice to me.  He said, “This is great, but I’m really, really very busy.  What I want you to do is work with this other person, and if you want to bring things to show to me from time to time, that will be all right.”  That’s really what I needed, because Sessions’ work was with the long line.  Kim’s work was more detailed, and I needed help with the detail.  So, circumstances prevented me from hurting myself.  I worked with Kim, and I am eternally grateful for having had that experience.

BD:   A guardian angel put you in the right place.

Perkinson:   He just said, “No, boy, over here!” [Much laughter]

BD:   I’m certainly glad that that guardian angel put you in Chicago.  We are lucky for that.

Perkinson:   I’ve been very fortunate being here.  Someone once asked, “You’re new here.  How do you like Chicago?”  I said, “I like it!”  He continued, “What’s the first thing you notice that’s different about Chicago from New York?”  I immediately said, “It’s cleaner.”  I don’t know if Chicagoans grasp this, but to be in a city that’s clean is remarkable.  I can remember my first trip to Europe.  I went over by boat, but I missed the boat coming back.  So I flew back.  I got on a plane in Paris, and I got off in New York, and all of a sudden, I could see the dirt in the air.  That was not the case in Europe.  I’m not saying that Europe is this, that, and the other, but it was just quite different.  We have pristine areas here, but you don’t always get picked up in one place and plopped down in the next, and all of a sudden you see that appreciable difference.  That’s what I saw coming from Europe to New York.  I also see that coming from New York to Chicago.  So Chicagoans should be very grateful that the efforts which are made on your behalf for cleanliness do not go unnoticed.
BD:   Hurray for us!

Perkinson:   Yes, indeed.  I have met some wonderful musicians here, too.  It’s the old attitude that good musicians are the same everywhere.  One night, when I was leaving Orchestra Hall, someone said, “Perkinson!”  I turned around, and it was an old classmate of mine.  We had a conversation, and then later I walked into the auditorium where he was rehearsing a quartet.  He asked,
What do you think of this?” and they played something.  I made some comments, and he said, “Stick around.  We need an ear like that.”  That’s what I remember about him.  It was a wonderful feeling that yes, the good guys are still the good guys whether they’re here, or there.  I felt that way working in Las Vegas.  I’ve written and conducted several night club acts for a few people.  When you work in Vegas, if you work the main room, the lounge, you have a night off.  Elsewhere there are no nights off, but the Musician’s Union says the house band has to have a night off.  So, there’s a group of musicians that play on everybody’s night off.  That’s what they call ‘The Relief Band’.  They go from one show to the other.  In some cases, they play it better than the guys that played it for the last six days.  They are uncanny, and you get musicians of that caliber.  These musicians would have been the first chair players whether they were in New York, Chicago, Hollywood, or wherever.  It doesn’t matter.  That’s when I started learning to appreciate Las Vegas.

BD:   It
s a different kind of challenge?

Perkinson:   Yes.  I can’t say what it’s like now, but when I first went to Europe to study, the accent was on specialization.  If you gave a chamber orchestra something big from the romantic repertoire to read through, they would be like fish out of water.  That was the rule.  You did this kind of music, or you did that kind of music, but you were a specialist in that one style.  What I was used to was New York, where guys will play a string quartet in the morning, a recording date in the afternoon, the symphony at night, and the ballet the next day.  They just switch hats all the time.  That’s what’s demanded of a musician in that venue.  What’s required of players varies depending upon where they are in the world.

BD:   I wonder if this is part of the situation with audiences.  We expect them to be good businessmen, and take care of their work, and then switch hats and come to the concert hall, and appreciate the music.  Are they too specialized and focused on their business life?

Perkinson:   I can
t say for audiences, but one time I had a concertmaster who had a sense of business.  Generally, we can walk around pretty much with blinders on, and have a really narrow focus as to what to do.  Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes it’s not.  It’s good if you have someone to take care of all of those other things for you.  We all aren’t that fortunate, and we suffer sometimes by not having that person, or not having the ability to do that.  I can’t say that there’s a virtue at being able to wear so many different hats, but it certainly puts one in good stead depending upon what youre confronted with.  However, it may take away from your focus on other things.  I can remember teaching classes in the Business of Music at the New School of Social Research in New York.  I guess it was admirable, but to a degree it bothered me that some of these youngsters really had the business of music down.  They really knew how to take what they had, and get the optimum rewards for it.  What they didn’t do was bring their optimum to the table to be rewarded.  They were not efficient at their craft.  They called themselves musicians, but they had the business up first, and they hadn’t acquired their musicianship, which was supposed to be their art form.  That was disturbing to me, but I was not there to comment on that.  So, I simply taught them what I felt they needed to know.  That was my function.

BD:   [Again being optimistic]  Maybe eventually they’ll get out of the performing side, and then help better musicians with their business.

Perkinson:   Hopefully that could be the case.  I can remember people fussing about wanting to earn better money playing at some of the places they’ve had to play.  Once they’ve gotten a good gig I would say to them,
“Don’t you understand that the joy is in the playing?  For someone who has gotten an opportunity to express himself, that is reward enough.  I’m not saying they shouldn’t make a living wage, but they need to learn to appreciate the artistic part of it, too.  It’s like the joys in loving.  Yes, we want to care about another human being, and it’s probably appreciated most when that care comes back, and you feel that they care about you.  But the joy is in loving that human being, and if you don’t get it back for whatever reason, you’ve had the experience of loving someone, and that is enormous.

BD:   When I was at WNIB for twenty-five years, I did all of these interviews on my own time and at my own expense, because I believed in them.  I then was able to put them on the radio [and also transcribe some of them for publications, and now place them on this website].

Perkinson:   There you are.  That’s what I’m talking about.  The joy is in the doing.  I am not against musicians, or any artist, earning money, or having his worth appreciated.

BD:   Oh yes, they should be paid.

Perkinson:   Some of our greatest creators we’ve been allowed to experience have come out of situations for which they did not receive anything like a proper appreciation, whether it was monetary or something other.  One of the things that came into consideration when Dr. Floyd offered me this position here in Chicago, and the realization of my life’s ambition, was that I was offered another job at the same time, which would have kept me in New York, where I was from.  That involved a lot more money, and it had its rewards, but it didn’t have the same reward this had.  So, here again, the joy is in the doing.

BD:   You have to decide what’s worth it to you.

Perkinson:   It was as simple as that, and I didn’t hesitate for a moment.

BD:   How long ago was this?

Perkinson:   1998.  After our meeting and discussions here, I left the next morning.  When I got home, the FedEx was at the door already.  They had already made up their minds, and the question was whether I would accept it or not.  It was wonderful.  I remember my daughter saying to me, “There’s nothing like being wanted.”  She understood that.

BD:   I’m glad it’s all working out for you.

Perkinson:   Yes, it’s been very good, it really has.

BD:   I hope it continues quite a while.
Perkinson:   If I can keep breathing!  [Both laugh]  I’ve enjoyed a lot of things here.  I came with some physical problems that have been dealt with admirably, and I’m very comfortable with how things have been handled for me here.  People ask how I like Chicago, and I say, “What’s not to like?  [Much laughter]  It’s not only the music-making that I’ve done here, but they have also made it possible for me to continue to make music in other places.  There is a freedom for me not to give up the other activities that have been in my life, and they encourage my maintaining those contacts, and remaining creative in other venues.  So this has been quite positive.

BD:   It’s valuable to you, and it’s valuable to the Center.

Perkinson:   Yes, we all profit from it.  I simply miss some of my friends in New York, which is natural.

BD:   But now with e-mail you can communicate with them regularly.

Perkinson:   It’s not the same...  Besides, some of them are dinosaurs like me when it comes to the computer.

BD:   [Remembering our back-and-forth to set up this interview]  You do very well at it!

Perkinson:   Because I came here to my office.  When I leave here, I don’t have one of my own in my studio.  When I come here, I get the information, and I see to it that I come here not every day, but often.  One cannot function in these surroundings without understanding some of what this is, and its functional purpose.

BD:   [With a gentle nudge]  You
ve been dragged into the 1990s!

Perkinson:   I’ve been dragged here kicking and screaming.  At first I just didn’t know how the thing worked, and I’m also that way about some of the process of writing and making music these days.  One of my former students, who is now a colleague, sent me a piece of his, which I finally got to listen to when I brought it into the office.  I put it on the machine and let it play quietly.  I sent him an e-mail giving him some other information that he looked for, and telling him that I listened to the piece, and congratulating him.  Of course, he really wanted the details, so he called me at home.  I said, “What’s there for me to say about the piece?  It’s wonderful.  Obviously, your craft is intact.  You’re very accomplished.  There was only one thing that bothered me about the piece.”  He asked what it was, and I said, “There was no challenge in it.  You did everything that you already knew how to do.  How long did it take you to write that piece?”  He said, “Three days.”  I said, “You’re talking about computer-writing?” and he said it was.  It was like all of those things that were obvious to me, but it was a good piece.  He simply didn’t dare.

BD:   Is your advice to young composers to challenge themselves?

Perkinson:   Oh, always.  I’m having difficulty now working on a piece for flute and piano.  I must admit I don’t work constantly, so I’ve not gotten very far for a long time.  I finished the first movement before I came here to Chicago, and I’ve written other things since I’ve been here, but I can’t move further with that piece.  Yes, I can write the next movement, and I’ve done some of that, but I feel I’ve written that before.  It’s nice, and people may hear it and say it’s quite wonderful, but I simply know that it doesn’t represent any advancement on my part.  So, I have to discard it.  Maybe I’ll save my ideas because I might need that moment later in the piece, but it’s not where the piece should be going now, and in all honesty, maybe I just don’t know where it should be going.  Maybe it should be a piece in one movement, but that’s not what I set out to do.  So, I need to continue to struggle with this until I come up with it, and I intend to.

BD:   Will you come up with it, or will it make itself apparent?

Perkinson:   The latter, but it will only make itself apparent if I struggle with it.  Only then will it reveal itself clearly.  That’s the way music goes.  Do you put the markings in?  No!  But if you work long enough at it, it will reveal itself to you, and then you understand how to play it, what to play, and why to play it this way as opposed to another way.  The answers to lots of things that we need to know are found the same way, no matter what discipline you’re involved in.

BD:   You’re just seeking the truth?

Perkinson:   Yes.  It’s that simple, and when approached honestly, we find the similarities we have from one group of people, or beliefs, or disciplines to another, are greater than our differences.  As people inhabiting this planet, I wish we could grasp that en masse.




© 2002 Bruce Duffie

This conversation was recorded in Perkinsons office in downtown Chicago on April 4, 2002.  Portions were broadcast on WNUR the following year, and again in 2011 and 2016.  This transcription was made in 2022, and posted on this website at that time.  My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.

To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.  To read my thoughts on editing these interviews for print, as well as a few other interesting observations, click here.

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Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001.  His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM, as well as on Contemporary Classical Internet Radio.

You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests.  He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago.  You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.