Quite some years ago, my mother, Mary Lois, asked me to write some easy-to-play pieces in the tonal tradition that would be suitable for her to play during her church services. This is the first piece I wrote for her and one which she liked very much. Apparently, I didn’t quite get the “easy-to-play” part of her request, as she never was able to “play” these pieces as intended. Nonetheless, she treasured the pieces I wrote for her while she was still alive. She passed away in 2015, but I am still writing these pieces, indeed as much for myself as for her. Thus, I subtitled the first from the initial group of pieces In Memoriam in loving memory of my mother and all that she did for me by encouraging me to continue writing music.
I later revised the piece in 2022, and it is the 2022 revised version that was recorded by Anna Kislitsyna in 2023 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA by PARMA Recordings. I later revised the piece in 2022, and it is the 2022 revised version that was recorded by Anna Kislitsyna in 2023 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport MA by PARMA Recordings, scheduled for release in January, 2024. Jennifer Wang performed the world premiere of this piece at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall in New York City at the Carnegie Laureate Gala Concert, organized and produced by Progressive Musicians and Sound Espressivo.
The title of the collection, PIECES FROM A DISTANT LAND, originates from my Paris sojourn from 1976-1978. Irene, my wife, who accompanied me, was my constant companion and shared with me the adventure of living abroad in Europe. During this time, I thought of home, back in the San Francisco Bay Area, as the “Distant Land”. Beyond this, it also occurred to me that “Distant Land” was a metaphor for the tonal language I grew up with and in which I began composing. This was particularly salient for me at the time as I was writing The Ship of Death which moved quite beyond this early language I was so used to, combining in fact such diverse sources as live electronic processing of acoustic sounds, open form of Earle Brown, complex contrapuntal textures, metric modulation influenced by the likes of Elliot Carter, and of course the sonic and timbral richness of much of the music I was listening to in Paris at the time — Xenakis, Messiaen, Cristóbal Halŏer, Heinz Holliger, and Stockhausen to name just a few!
Based on this view of a “Distant Land” I began to contemplate several series of works for solo piano, the first being written in the tonal tradition (Series I), the second being tonally more advanced (Series II), and the third being experimental (Series III).
— Peter Dickson Lopez