Peter Vukmirovic Stevens is a composer, pianist and visual artist. His voice is distinct and instantly recognizable in music and art with works spanning from the concert hall to the art gallery.
Stevens studied composition with Bern Herbolsheimer at Cornish College where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. After graduation, he went on for further orchestration studies with Samuel Jones, former composer-in-residence with Seattle Symphony Orchestra. He also studied composition and piano performance abroad with Bodhan Bubak in Prague, and Indian vocal music and composition in Varanasi, India.
After graduation, he co-founded the Seattle Pianist Collective, an innovative performance format, and served as the Artistic Director for six years. During that time, his Symphony No. 1 was premiered by conductor Adam Stern.
Stevens has two widely-released albums of his works: August Ruins for cello and Feral Icons for viola. August Ruins spent many weeks in the Amazon top-100 for modern classical music. The album was submitted for a Grammy by Navona Records. In 2014, he had the honor of having a complete concert program of August Ruins performed at Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport, Massachusetts.
In 2015, he was awarded a one-year residency at the renowned Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris to compose and premier new string quartets and to perform newly written works for piano.
Later this year he will release a new album of string quartets, composed during his Paris residency, featuring members of Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Recent awards include a grant from the Allied Arts Foundation, as well as two awards from The Jack Straw Artist Support Program.
In addition, his musical range extends into collaborations with electronic music artists. He wrote the notable piano suite, Nine Pieces for Piano and Buddha Machine with China-based electronic music duo, FM3. He is currently working with Switzerland-based artist Strotter Inst. for a vinyl album release of works for piano and prepared turntables.
Stevens presently resides in Paris.
“Found object artists are artists who work with the flotsam and jetsam of the world, a coyote skeleton by the side of a lake, a car spring in an auto salvage yard. Peter V. Stevens is a found artist of music. In the pounding of a foundry or the pealing of a temple bell in Bhutan, he finds music that he then translates so that we can hear what he hears. And what he hears is beautiful, so beautiful, in fact, that I rank him as one of the country’s best young composers.”
Samuel Jay Keyser
– Professor Emeritus of Linguistics Phonology, Lexical Theory, Poetics at MIT
Music, through its medium and architecture, is for me the clearest way to develop and communicate artistic narratives and pure expression. In every piece of music I write, I seek to capture and convey the source of the universal heart of the human. I also strive for my work to be perceived as a complex whole, an organism living a life of its own.
The influences and inspiration for my musical ideas sometimes come from non-musical places, such as visual art, traveling, and sometimes just individual words.
Traveling and residing in diverse countries and cultures has been one of the greatest influence in my composing. The encounters, mental states and sometimes precarious situations I have experienced create a ground that guides my artistic intuition. One learns, (if one is inclined) that while human life on earth sometimes appears so different, culturally, socially and economically, one becomes acquainted and realizes just how universal our motivations, ambitions, ideas and even humor are. In my view, to internalize this feeling is something not just invaluable for the artist, but to anyone with a love of learning about humanity.
I began composing as a child during piano practice. During my lessons I was distracted by sounds that I found on my own. I began composing first by memory, then notating my music in spaces between the notes in my workbooks and later drawing staff lines on blank pieces of paper that I found in my father’s office.
I have a background in both classical and modern concert art music, as well as art-music, noise and electronic music. I bring techniques and approaches from these diverse styles and use their tools of music construction to engage with audiences of all stripes. It is my goal with every work to bring a music that is representative of the times we live in.
When I begin a new musical work, my compositional ideas originate in one of two categories. The first is the musical narrative. I craft these works as pieces of musical literature, telling the story via the use of musical themes and events, then developing and contrasting them into movements or “chapters”. I sometimes sketch pictures beforehand as a model for how the piece will develop over time.
The second type of music is constructed in a more purely musical manner, using one or more small musical motifs or phrases. I use the motif(s) as a foundation and build them out using musical design techniques and proportions, giving the motifs their maximum development.