Artist: Petra Vergunst
Petra Vergunst works as a composer and community musician based in Scotland. Interested in a wide range of environmental, social and cultural issues, and working across the arts, Petra often combines her musical compositions with narrated and/or sung texts to express the experiences and thoughts behind her compositions. To reinforce the narrative character of her music she likes to resemble her musical utterances with spoken ones, and arranges them in the form of a dialogue. Conscious choices of traditional key relations and/or atonal techniques, sometimes in combination, help her express underlying intentions.
I work as a professional composer and community musician.
What Music activities are you involved in? Recording artist, songwriter, composer, producer, engineer?
As a community musician I work with museums and a wide range of other organisations on projects in which I use music to discuss social, cultural and environmental issues. In Parallel Lives I used a traditional Scottish song to discuss issues of migration for work with a community, comparing the long-term residents historical experiences with those of people who have more recently moved to Scotland. In 2013, The Year of Natural Scotland, I work on projects in which the public’s nature experiences will be turned into a series of songs that will be with the same participants.
Whereas composing is an important part of my community music projects, I also enjoy composing per se and I often take inspiration from other forms of art. At the moment I’m working on the composition project Said in Stone, in which I explore the memories and stories conjured up by stones in the Scottish landscape through a series of musical reflections and poems.
What aspect of what you do musically, do you find challenging?
Finding my own voice in my compositions has been an interesting and enjoyable process. In the end, I’d describe my own musical voice through the comparison of musical utterances with vocal utterances and the metaphor of dialogue. Yet, my compositions often take inspiration from other art forms as poetry and painting, be it through writing and drawing myself or collaborations.
How would you describe your music?
My main interest is in composing for voice, piano and chamber ensembles. Though most of my compositions are short, I often compose a range of works within the context of a project such as Said in Stone (http://musicforcommunities.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/said-in-stone.html).
Who is your favourite artist?
Though I have played piano and sung in a choir at amateur level since my teenage years , I originally worked as a lecturer and researcher in rural development. Feeling I wanted to do more with my interest in music, I studied music composition with the Open College of the Arts. In the end it has been my understanding of community processes that has helped me find my own voice as a community musician – a voice based on the understanding that music is only a means to discuss issues with communities.
My final thoughts to inspire young musicians:
There are many different routes into a music career. There are also many different understandings of what makes a good musician. The media often portrays classical musicians as having started playing and composing at a very early age. There are, however, many very competent and inspiring musicians who have started out in a different career. Don’t let this discourage you. Try to find your own voice and go for it.
Thank you on behalf of Listening Edge Records for taking time to share with us your thoughts on music, and helping inspire musicians of all ages.Trevor Baron President Listening Edge Records