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Faculty Member Ecstatic Over Grammy Award Nomination

Published: January 15, 2014

Tom Peters
PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM PETERS
Tom Peters

Tom Peters, a music faculty member at CSULB, has been nominated for a 2014 Grammy Award in the “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” category for the recording “Cage: The Ten Thousand Things.” Peters is nominated with his fellow performers Vicki Ray, William Winant and Aron Kallay.

His Grammy nomination was for the recording of John Cage’s “The Ten Thousand Things” on the MicroFest label with acclaimed pianists Kallay and Ray and legendary percussionist Winant along with a recently discovered recording of Cage himself performing “45’ for a Speaker,” the first American recording of this seminal work.

“It took me over a year to learn ’26′ 1.1499″ for a String Player’—my part in ‘The Ten Thousand Things,’” said Peters, “and over the past 10 years it has become one of my favorite pieces to perform. Along with my colleagues Aron Kallay, Vicki Ray, William Winant and Producer John Schneider, the recognition a Grammy nomination provides has been amazing.”

The CD on which the nominated piece can be heard features five pieces by Cage. Each of the four artists on the CD perform one of Cage’s solo works, plus they’ve included a recording of the composer himself reciting his “45’ for a Speaker” (1954). All of these works played simultaneously become part of “The Ten Thousand Things” one of the earliest remix pieces, as Cage conceived it in 1954.

Now 50, Peters was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 48. When he learned of the Grammy nomination his excitement didn’t really show.

“My musician husband had just been nominated for a Grammy, the biggest award in the music industry, and he looked about as interested as he does when we discuss which kind of laundry detergent to buy,” said Linda Peters on their blog, “The Aspie and the NT.” She screamed upon learning the news; he stared straight ahead stone-faced.

“You really can’t know how I’m feeling by simply looking at me,” blogged Tom Peters. “You have to not only ask me, but also trust my response. While this is classic Asperger’s Syndrome, I think it also applies to NT (neurotypical) relationships. When the 2014 Grammy nominations were announced, I anxiously scrolled down, heart racing, and there it was: “John Cage: The Ten Thousand Things” was nominated. I was ecstatic. My face might not have shown it, but really, I was.”

Peters teaches double bass at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at CSULB. A bassist, he is an active composer and a performer, performing with Southwest Chamber Music since 1998 and the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra since 1993. He has performed as a soloist with Ensemble Oh-Ton, People Inside Electronics, MicroFest, the Schindler House and many others, and has been featured on Nordwest Radio in Hamburg, Germany.

“In a high-profile faculty with numerous international achievements, Tom Peters’ Grammy nomination for ‘The Ten Thousand Things’ stands out as one of the most impressive. Tom has been nominated twice before as a member of Southwest Chamber Music,” said Carolyn Bremer, director of the Cole Conservatory. “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance” is a tough category to crack. It isn’t an inconsequential classical category. This is the big time and he is nominated along with, for example, the recording of last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning work.

“This is especially fabulous to me, personally; I am a composer and former bass player. Tom’s exceptional work in new music is a boon to all of us composers, and I am thrilled that we have a bass player of his caliber here at the Cole Conservatory,” she concluded.

As a composer, Peters specializes in creating music for silent films (www.silentmovietom.com), performing original scores through looping electronics and synchronized electronic soundscapes. In April, he premiered his original score to the 1927 silent classic “The Passion of Joan of Arc”—his ninth film—at the Toronto Silent Film Festival with Joelle Morton on tenor viol. The score was featured in a radio broadcast over the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). He also has written music for the John Pennington Dance Group’s “Yield of Vision,” “Podcast” and “Blow,” and Parson’s Nose Theater’s presentations of “Everyman” and “Cendrillon.”

He is also a prolific writer and is the Aspie of “The Aspie and the NT.” This blog, written together with his wife, documents his life on the autism spectrum as someone diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and its effect on their relationship.

The Grammy Awards will be held on Sunday, Jan. 26, in a live broadcast from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The event will be broadcast on KCBS-TV Channel 2.