Regional Arts Commission awards music professor Martin $20,000 fellowship for piano artistry

Music professor Peter Martin will have some creative time to engage in projects made possible by the RAC $20,000 fellowship Photo courtesy of Peter Martin

Music professor Peter Martin has performed jazz for audiences internationally, studied classical piano performance at Julliard and performed at the White House. Now, the jazz and composition instructor has time to commit to his projects—as he earned a $20,000 fellowship award from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission (RAC).

Martin said he was deeply honored and appreciative to the RAC, and the list of other fellows who received it are “quite distinguished architects, artists and musicians.”

According to the RAC website, the fellowship money is not a grant to fund a specific project but allows the artist to pursue other work they would not normally be able to do.

Roseann Weiss, RAC director of community and public arts, said she is happy the organization honored Martin.

“We think it was wonderful to honor him as musician and composer and he also has been acting as an ambassador for the arts in St. Louis as he travels around the world,” Weiss said.

Martin, a composer, improviser, arranger, performer and instructor plans to cut back on touring and create three projects within the next year– a solo piano project and two albums with musical collaboration.

According to Martin, the fellowship will allow him time in terms of rehearsal and to work on his original music.

“I hope to have uninterrupted creative time,” Martin said.

He said he has enjoyed writing for a number of instruments besides piano, such as string orchestra instruments. He was commissioned by the Sheldon Concert Hall and brought quartets and chamber jazz performances to the public.

Martin arranged and performed on Dianne Reeves’ Grammy winning release “A Little Moonlight.” In addition, he appeared in George Clooney’s 2005 film “Good Night, and Good Luck.” He was then the featured pianist and an arranger on the Grammy winning soundtrack as well.

He began on the piano at 3 years old with “great teachers” in his parents.

One of his most influential piano instructors was Jane Allen, who Martin said was among the “most highly regarded teachers around St. Louis.”

After high school, he attended Julliard for three semesters until he was selected to tour with jazz vocalist Betty Carter throughout Europe.

According to Martin, as jazz includes a lot of improvisation, he composes from improvised ideas or “plethora of ideas” and stretches them out into a longer composition.

“Small bits fit together to become its own movement,” Martin said.

He said in his third year as visiting scholar at SIUE teaching jazz piano he is having a “great time.”

“I love teaching. My mom was a devoted teacher so it comes natural to enjoy giving back,” Martin said.

Martin said the most fulfilling aspect of teaching is helping students find their creative output whether in composition or improvisation.

His ultimate goal is to continue to be productive as a creative artist and to expand the outlets where his compositions can be played.

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