Questions & Answers
Q. How old were you when you began taking piano lessons?
A. I was ten years old.
Q. Were your piano teachers happy with your progress?
A. No, actually not; I spent a lot of time learning songs I heard on the radio, even composing songs. The teachers wanted me to concentrate on the classics.
Q. Who does your CD artwork?
A. I play a major role in designing the covers, with the assistance of many talented people. My goal is always to produce a cover whose visual impression complements what I am trying to convey through the sound of my music. I come up with the basic concept for a photo. Then I give the photos and the text to a graphics designer and who puts the elements together in the most expressive and visually appealing way. It becomes a back and forth process of refining the design to achieve the final product. All photos were taken by my soulmate Barbara Monahan, Anne Williams, David Pike, and Martha Stewart.
For the covers which are original artwork, the process begins with me sketching out some basic ideas in my mind that I think are reflective of the album's theme and content. I then present these preliminary ideas to a professional artist, and we iterate until we obtain an original piece of artwork I am happy with. My artistic collaborators have included artists John Stephens (Transcendent Voyage and Picture of Time) and Jamie Suplee (Keys to the Heart).
Despite the diminished size of CD artwork, I still strive for the standards of excellence established during the glory days of vinyl albums.
Q. What do you enjoy more - marine biology or music?
A. My interests in music and mollusks complement each other in a truly symbiotic fashion. I derive inspiration for many of my compositions from the ocean, and the creatures that live there. I have also been able to nourish both passions on many of my exotic foreign travels, where I've had the opportunity to explore exciting shelling grounds during the day, and perform for audiences with different backgrounds and musical tastes at night. I consider myself doubly blessed.
Q. So what are the fun aspects about both?
A. Being a marine biologist takes me to the world's best dive spots and mollusk-hunting areas. Performing music is what being a musician is all about: it comes from your heart and soul and is totally enjoyable to me.
Q. Is there a parallel between teaching and giving concerts?
A. There is a parallel: teaching is communication from brain to brain, performing music is communication from soul to soul.
Q. Where can I hear you perform?
A. For all upcoming performances click here
Q. Are your performances suitable for children?
A. Absolutely. My performances are enjoyed by people of all ages, from the young to the less young.
Q. Are your performances suitable for children?
A. Absolutely. My performances are enjoyed by people of any age.
Q. What is Freeflow? Is it the same as improvisation?
A. Freeflow is my own term for a technique I employ when I compose. It is a process of on-the-spot composing and performing. It is different from improvisational playing because there is no pre-existing composition on which to improvise.
Q. Do you have sheet music available of all your songs?
A. I have a limited number of my own compositions available on sheet music.
Q. Who were your main influences?
A. When I heard George Winston's "December" album back in 1984, I fell in love with his style and he became one of my main influences. Other pianists/composers I admire are David Lanz and Richard Clayderman. Whenever people tell me that my style reminds them of that of my heroes, I feel complimented.
Q. How do you come up with the names your compositions?
A. Usually once a Freeflow composition is taking shape (evolves), the music will remind me of something, such as "rain" or an "Irish sailor" or a Rainstorm" Sometimes the name, or the concept around which I compose, is present first, other times the song is composed first and I look for an appropriate title afterwards. During a performance I sometimes ask the audience what they feel or see when they hear a song.
Q. How long does it take you to record an album?
A. My Freeflow albums require no preparation. Just an inspirational mood once I start recording. The albums featuring my renditions of exisiting songs do not take that long, because usually I have been playing these songs for a long time already. The albums with my own compositions take several years. It takes that long for some songs that started out as Freeflow compositions to evolve into structured compositions.
Q. Do you have a producer?
A. Thus far I have produced all my CDs myself. My recording engineer(s), however, always give their opinions as to the feel of a "take." They may even make suggestions such as "slow down more at the end" or "try playing it lighter" or "add some more expression to this section," to the point where they are officially credited as "co-producer."
Q. Would you ever consider doing an album with a vocalist?
A. Many of my compositions could be made into songs with lyrics. A few songwriters have written lyrics for them, and I would love to do an album with a vocalist.
Q. Who designed your website?
A. The site was designed and built by Maxim Poirier you can contact him at Expatinpanama@gmail.com