Obituary: Morris Pert
Composer/percussionist who worked with Yamash'ta and explored power of myth
Born: 8 September, 1947, in Arbroath.
Died: 27 April, 2010, in Balchrick, aged 63.
MORRIS Pert was born in Arbroath, Angus, in 1947. He graduated with a BMus from Edinburgh University in 1969, and, with an Andrew Fraser scholarship, went on to study composition and percussion at the Royal Academy in London, where he was a pupil of Alan Bush.
He was also an associate of Trinity College London in piano teaching. While at the academy, he won several composition prizes including the 1970 Royal Philharmonic Award for his first orchestral work Xumbu-Ata. A two-year period working with the famous Japanese percussionist Stomu Yamash'ta followed, with performances, recordings and musical collaborations in several European music festivals and in Yamash'ta's own Red Buddha Theatre.
This led Pert to form his own experimental music group, Suntreader, which performed and recorded much of his own and his colleagues' music.
In the 1970s, Pert was one of the most prominent composers of his generation, receiving regular BBC commissions for large-scale orchestral works, including his first and second symphonies. At the same time, he was one of the foremost percussionists in the world of popular rock music.
His serious works draw their inspiration from an eclectic range of sources, but especially from ancient mythology, astronomy and oriental culture.
He wrote three symphonies. The first, The Rising of the Moon, premiered in Tokyo under Hiroyuko Iwaki in 1981; the second, The Beltane Rites, was commissioned and performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the third, The Ancient Kindred, was premiered by the Munich Opera Orchestra under Eberhard Schoener on German television in 1980.
Ancient Rites for choir and strings was commissioned and performed in Glasgow by the John Currie Singers. Pert's music has been broadcast on several occasions on BBC Radio 3 and abroad.
Works recorded on the Chantry Record Label include Chromosphere for five players and tape, Luminos for basset horn and piano, Eoastrion for E flat clarinet and tape, The Ultimate Decay for tape and a BBC commission, The Book of Love for percussion and tape. He wrote incidental music for Frank Dunlop's Young Vic production of Macbeth and the Oxford Playhouse production of The Tempest.
Pert worked for 18 years as a session musician in the major London recording studios, having recorded with (among many others) Paul McCartney, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, John Williams, Kate Bush, Mike Oldfield, Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins and the jazz-rock band Brand X.
He also did arrangements for the Classic Rock series of records by the London Symphony Orchestra. In 1977, Pert was voted No 4 jazz and rock percussionist in the world by America's Billboard magazine. He received five gold albums, an American award for a hit song and a nomination by the National Academy of Recording Arts in Washington for his performances on record.
Among his works are an electronic ballet score, Continuum, for the London Contemporary Dance Theatre at Sadlers Wells; Voyage in Space, 20 short piano pieces; The Ancient Pattern for chamber ensemble, a McEwen commission from Glasgow University and, more recently, incidental music for Eden Court Theatre's production of Peter Pan in Inverness and Aurora – a work for taped electronics.
Pert spent his last years living and working in his own small studio in Balchrick, Sutherland concentrating on composition and electronic recording techniques.
Much of his music was inspired by the symbolism and the mystery surrounding the Picts and by his interest in the philosophical implications of the sciences of astronomy, cosmology and astrophysics.
He recently completed Chromosphere, his fifth CD for release.
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