B i o g r a p h y
Music has always been a kind of magic for me, a portal to other realms. When I was young, I was inspired by fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings, and I’m still drawn to myths and legends. I’ve written works on themes ranging from the planets, the sorcery of Merlin, and the Callanish Stone Circle, to the Torngat Mountains. My aim is to write music that invites audiences into other worlds, so they can re-discover their own sense of wonder. -- Daniel Perttu
Composers and writers whose works have influenced Perttu's music include Mahler, Shelley, Rautavaara, Barber, and Keats. Critic Lee Passarella notes the “modal strains [in Perttu’s music] that recall the works of . . . Ralph Vaughan Williams and Ernest Bloch” (Audiophile Audition).
Dan’s second piano concerto, A Planets Odyssey, was premiered in May, 2022, and has been characterized by critic Tom Wachunas as a “sensational non-stop trek across millions of miles” that “possesses an uncanny acuity for translating visual and tactile phenomena into palpable realities in themselves, endowing the work with a phantasmagorical dimensionality” (Artwach).
Dan’s recent overture, To Spring, is based on an ode of the same name by poet William Blake. Writing for The Whole Note, Tiina Kiik characterizes To Spring as being “majestic” and “lyrical.” And, in Textura, the authors describe To Spring as “vivid, multi-hued scene painting packed with orchestral detail [that] feels like a blossoming, whether it be of youth or the natural world, and a triumphant one at that.”
Dan’s music has been performed on four continents and in more than 40 of the United States. His concert opener Phoenix was released on a recording by the London Symphony Orchestra in October, 2022, and his “Spring” overture was recently recorded by the Moravian Philharmonic (Czech Republic). Both recordings are on the GRAMMY-winning Navona Records label, an imprint of PARMA Recordings.
His other international credits include performances by the Subotica Philharmonic and the Niš Symphony Orchestra (Serbia), and the Falcón Symphony Orchestra (Venezuela). In the states, his orchestral credits include the Flagstaff Symphony (Arizona), Canton Symphony (Ohio), Muscatine Symphony (Iowa), Perrysburg Symphony (Ohio), Space Coast Symphony (Florida), Firelands Symphony (Ohio), Fox Valley Symphony (Wisconsin), Acadiana Symphony (Louisiana), Oklahoma Composers' Orchestra, Greenville Symphony (Pennsylvania), Orchestra Omaha, and Lakeland Civic Orchestra (Ohio).
Upcoming performances slated for the 2022-2023 season include Dan’s “Spring” overture with the Sierra Vista Symphony (Arizona), his concert opener Phoenix with the Butler Philharmonic (Ohio) and Wheeling Symphony (West Virginia), and another piece inspired by legend, Nimuë, with the National Philharmonic of Venezuela.
Although Dan always loved to compose, he was resistant to pursue composition as a career when he was young. As an undergraduate student, he hedged his bets by studying music and English. He also took numerous courses in psychology and neuroscience and even considered a career in law. When he was awarded a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship to study music in graduate school, he threw caution to the wind and decided to go “all in.” It worked. Upon graduating with his doctorate in composition, he took a position as a music professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and now teaches at Westminster College, where he also took his turn as the chair of the School of Music for two terms from 2014 through 2022. He lives with his wife and two amazing daughters in Neshannock, Pennsylvania.
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