30 seconds interview: Electra Perivolaris

Electra Perivolaris composer

Mercurial composer and pianist Electra Perivolaris may be a new name in the contemporary classical world, but she’s already been called out as a ‘star of the future’ by BBC Introducing.

Nods from BBC Radio 3 and the London Symphony Orchestra have also come in thick and fast, as critics and talent-spotters begin to acknowledge her sure-handed musicianship and trailblazing compositions.

More accolades are no doubt coming her way soon, as her Live Music Now commission, Bruadaraiche (the Scots-Gaelic word for dreamer), is aired in Glasgow across August and September.

Electra’s new song cycle, Les Heures Grecques, also receives its premiere in the city later this year.

Here, she tells us how she first switched on to music, what inspires her to compose and the best advice she’s ever been given…

What was the first song you developed an obsession for? 

I heard this saxophonist busking on London’s South Bank when I was about six years old and I just stood watching him for about 30 minutes. That might not be answering the question, but it was definitely the first time I realised how powerful music could be!

What’s the first instrument you ever got hold of?

It was the plastic recorder that I learnt in school, as part of the recorder choir. My parents were so keen for me to stop playing it around the house that I quickly moved on to piano lessons!

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever been given?

It would have to be the advice given to me by one of my best friends – she said that the most important thing is never to forget the reason why I started creating music in the first place, because I loved it and enjoyed sharing it with people. When you start to become professional, it’s so easy just to get stressed and forget about your true motivations.

Where do you discover new music?

There are so many ways to hear new artists now and I often come across new music online, or in different live concerts where emerging or unknown composers have been programmed.

What inspires you outside of music?

Most of my music is inspired by emotional and physical landscapes. I love hiking, especially in remote and mountainous places, and my experiences of these landscapes influence the music I write.

What track of yours best represents your sound?

My recent piece for solo piano, Granite Prayer, really reflects my sound world. It was formed out of a single musical line which repeats and transforms throughout the piece and is a very personal piece of music for me.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a couple of commissions at the moment, including writing a piece for the organisation, Live Music Now, for inclusive audiences of children. It will be performed in several Additional Support Needs schools later this month and this was the perfect project for me, as it combined my love of writing music with my interest in outreach and music education.

Upcoming performances and premieres
August- September: Live Music Now Scotland Kimie Prize Commission of Bruadaraiche for inclusive audiences of children, primary schools across Glasgow.
22 September: New Song Cycle, Les Heures Grecques, Wellington Church, Glasgow.
6 October: Premiere of new commission for The Cumnock Tryst, alongside new work by Sir James MacMillan.

Electra Perivolaris recently become a member of PRS for Music. Find out who else has just joined the society.

electraperivolaris.com