ListN Up Playlist: Gillian Rae Perry (June 20, 2024)

ListN Up playlists are commissioned by American Composers Forum. Artists are selected by ACF staff (including I CARE IF YOU LISTEN and innova Recordings).

Gillian Rae Perry is a composer and songwriter whose work explores the relationships between mental health, childhood, the subconscious, and dream worlds. Perry was recently commissioned by Chicago Opera Theater to write her first opera, The Weight of Light, which received its concert premiere in April of 2024. Her work has been described as “beautiful, audacious, surprising and thought-provoking.”

Hi everyone! My name is Gillian Rae Perry and I am a composer and songwriter. Thank you to I Care If You Listen and American Composers Forum for asking me to curate this playlist! I am really honored to get to share works that have inspired me along with some of my own work today.

The theme I chose for this playlist is poetry and gentleness. What I mean by poetry in this context is the poetry we find and create in life. For me, finding that poetry often means noticing the gentleness in life. For example, a flower growing through the concrete or the little birds on the street. These are the sorts of things that really inspire me and my work. For this playlist, I picked some pieces that inspire me to notice and reflect on the poetry and gentleness in life. So, I hope you enjoy it and if you find something gentle in this music, I’d love to hear about it.

Tabula Rasa: II. Silentium by Arvo Pärt, Performed by Renaud Capuçon, Guillaume Bellom, and the Orchestre de chambre de Lansanne

Arvo Pärt has inspired me as a composer since my undergraduate. He has such a beautiful way of connecting to gentleness through repetition and small changes. I was very fortunate to get to hear this piece performed live by Monday Evening Concerts in LA a few years ago, and it was one of the most special concerts I’ve ever been to.

Lost Children: VI. Sleeping by Gillian Rae Perry, Performed by Kristen Lee, Michael Salas, Nigel Deane, Kanoa Ichiyanagi, Wells Leng, Richard An, Brandon Carson, Marja Liisa Kay, Alia Johnson, Kion Heidari, Braden Pontoli, Julianne Reames

This is a movement from one of my own pieces titled Lost Children. This work is a six movement chamber/dance/film piece that tells the story of five children who were stolen by mysterious shadows. The piece is an allegory for the ways that personalities adapt to harsh conditions during childhood. This final movement, though quite intense at times, settles into some of the most gentle music I have written.

Symphony No 5: IV. Adagietto. Sehr langsam, by Gustav Mahler, Performed by Pierre Boulez and the Wiener Philharmonic

There was a time in undergrad I was so obsessed with Mahler’s music that I set all of my passwords to be Mahler related (these have all been changed at this point, of course). I have chosen this section of No. 5 as it fits best with the theme of the day. Every time I hear this movement, I am pulled into a state of reflection and stillness.

Harp Hymnal by Derrick Skye, Performed by Skye and Jacqueline Marshall

I find the work of Derrick Skye to be such a huge inspiration. I love the way that Derrick is able to stay true to himself as a composer while exploring many different musical realms and genres. I find this piece in particular takes me to a meditative place that I am very happy to sit in for a while. I hope you find the same peace in this music that I do.

Conversación a distancia by Angélica Negrón, Performed by Ensemble Pi

I have loved Angélica Negrón’s work for a long time. She has such a special way of engaging with whimsy and gentleness that I find deeply inspiring. This piece is an excellent example of these qualities of her work.

Dandelion by Florist, Performed by Florist (Emily Sprague, Jonnie Baker, Rick Spataro, Felix Walworth)

One of my favorite bands of all times is Florist. I often feel that this band is peering into my mind; I connect so specifically with the philosophical ideologies presented in their lyrics. It was hard to pick just one song from this band to share with you. I chose this one, however, as it holds a very special place in my heart… listen at 3:13 for one of my favorite synth moments.

A Reminder by Gillian Rae Perry, Performed by Perry and Kimberly Dunning

I wrote this song during a time of deep self discovery; a time that I first learned to fully love and care for myself. I discovered a softness and gentleness I had not known before. I am forever grateful for this period of life and the people that led me there. It was my goal that this song feel like a big hug from all the people I love.

Everything Ends by Leith Ross, Performed by Ross

Leith Ross is another artist that I feel peers into my mind because of how deeply I connect to their lyrics. Leith writes some of the most gentle music I have ever heard. I love the sentiment of this song in particular: everything ends, the good and the bad. This truth is somehow both sad and comforting. There is poetry to be found knowing that everything ends.



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