NEW Age music guru Peter Kater has been nominated 12 times in 13 years for a Best New Age Album Grammy award, since 2004.
This year, the pianist-singer-songwriter-composer’s collaborative work on “Inner Passion”, with cellist Tina Guo, is up against Ireland’s Enya’s “Dark Sky Island”and Greece’s Vangelis’ “Rosetta”, among other musicians, for the category award at the 59th annual Grammy event.
Inner Passion debuted at number four on the American Billboard New Age Albums chart, in March last year. New Age music is ambient melodic sounds, used in yoga, meditation, for healing, and relaxation, among others.
Kater, German-born and currently residing in Boulder, Colorado, started out on the classical music route, but he says: “I didn’t want to play piano or classical music”.
“It was my mother’s idea. I didn’t enjoy it until I started to learn to improvise and create my own music.”
The 50-something artiste moved from the classical piano genre to jazz and then New Age because of “the need to express myself, not something that was written by someone else 100 – 200 years ago.”
According to his website, Kater started on the piano when aged 6. When he was 18, he took to the road for over a year. He played piano at restaurants and lounges for tips and meals. After logging in over 30,000 miles on the road, he landed in Boulder, and soon started listening to the music of pianist Keith Jarrett; the avant jazz group, Oregon; and the Paul Winter Consort. That opened a new world for him.
He reveals that the one thing he learnt from that 30,000-mile journey that he still holds true today is “simplicity is best”.
“We really don’t need that much to be happy. Looking for external things or achievements will not bring us happiness or contentment. ‘Unreasonable happiness’ is a much more desired experience, to be happy and content for no apparent external reason,” says Kater whose social work has brought greater awareness to the environment and the plight of Native Americans, leading him to receive the United Nations’ Environmental Leadership Award.
The award highlights people and organisations who have led the world’s response to climate change and sustainable development through example and action. But is the green earth/save Earth/climate change message being heard in the right places?
“There are so many agendas throughout the world by large corporations and countries that are extremely short sighted and self-serving,” says Kater.
“They really don’t care about the future or what the planet will be like 50 to 100 years from now.
“But we can each do our part to contribute and work towards sustainability. And we can each do our parts to raise the ‘vibration’ of the world to invite in a higher awareness of how our actions in an everyday small way can affect the entire world. The message is already out there, but what is it that will make people want to hear it?”
In a thriving career spanning more than 30 years, with over 60 albums resulting in the sales of millions of units, Kater has also scored the music for over 100 television and film productions.
“Music is an expression of my life. It is also a place to go to find balance and release. I’ve been playing music since I was 6 years old. It is an intimate part of my being. I don’t see it as a separate thing. It’s necessary part of my existence.”
On Inner Passion, Kater says it’s “more an exploration in swift intimacy, listening and improvising”.
“The music might be experienced as healing, but our intention was to create a genuine and pure recording of two musicians coming together for the very first time without ever having played to together and having a musical conversation. It’s very vulnerable. And ‘listening’ to each other is the key.”
He says he met cellist Guo, from China, over lunch. ” I wanted to meet her because I often use cello in my scoring and recording projects and wanted to have her as a possible session player in the future. We quickly escalated the idea to recording a whole album together.”
Doing an album is “anintimate process between myself and my ‘muse’”. It comes through me. Sometimes there’s a slight feeling of emptiness after I have finished it, but then I can listen to it until I’m tired of it and ready to move onto something else,” says Kater who unwinds after completing his work through “silence, nature, being on the beach”. “Sometimes I like to cook and have some sake.”
He himself listens to Keith Jarrett “several times a week”. “I also listen to Brambles, Snatam Kaur, Bliss, Daughter, London Grammar, James Vincent McMorrow, Sting, Sona Jobarteh, Peter Gabriel, Dominic Miller and many other’s depending on what I’m in the mood for. But surprisingly, I love to listen to silence or the sounds of nature the most.”
A Grammy on the mantelpiece would be “nice”. “I’ve had 12 nominations in the last 13 years and feel that my music has been acknowledged and rewarded in so many ways… and… I would like to win at this point or in the next few years.”
The 59th annual Grammy Awards is on Feb 12.
** The article also appeared in the new straits times