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 sorcery of Merlin to the Callanish Stone Circle and 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.
Composers and writers whose works have influenced Dan’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 Auditions). 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 Dan’s Spring overture as being “majestic” and “lyrical.” And, in Textura, the authors describe the Spring overture 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 40 of the United States. His international credits include performances by the Niš Symphony Orchestra (Serbia), the Falcón Symphony Orchestra (Venezuela), and a recording by the Moravian Philharmonic (Czech Republic). In the states, his orchestral credits include the Firelands Symphony Orchestra (Ohio), Fox Valley Symphony (Wisconsin), Acadiana Symphony (Louisiana), Oklahoma Composers' Orchestra, Greenville Symphony (Pennsylvania), Orchestra Omaha, and Lakeland Civic Orchestra (Ohio).
Premieres slated for when the coronavirus situation is more under control include Dan’s myth-inspired viola concerto Merlin, written for Brett Deubner and commissioned by the Perrysburg Symphony (Ohio), and his Planets Odyssey for piano and orchestra, written for Jeffrey Biegel and commissioned by the Canton Symphony (Ohio). Other orchestral performances set for 2020-2021 and beyond include Butler Symphony (Pennsylvania), Symphonicity (Virginia), Sonoma County Philharmonic (California), and Sierra Vista Symphony (Arizona).
Although Dan always loved to compose, he was resistant to pursue composition as a career. As an undergrad, 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 serves as Chair of the School of Music. He lives with his wife and two amazing daughters in bucolic New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.