Whisperings Radio – Now Playing

July 3rd, 2014 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views, Walden No Responses

Deja Views and Walden have been added to the play list at Whisperings Radio. Whisperings is one of David Nevue’s projects to bring together the ‘New Age’ piano community. It is a great project and I am glad to be a part of it.

I’m looking forward to playing at the annual All-Star Concert and Awards Ceremony one of these days.

Deja Views and Walden now on Spotify

June 8th, 2013 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views, Walden No Responses

One of the interesting new radio-like music sites is Spotify. It’s an easy way to check out either Deja Views or Walden. You can also search on ‘Ken Pedersen’ to bring up the page.

Interesting I have no idea how they got on there…


May 25th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views, Overview, Walden No Responses

I began composing music in the mid 1990’s as an outlet and avocation. Here’s a summary of my work.


In 1997, I set myself to record a CD based on Walden, authored by Henry David Thoreau. I had no commercial aspirations and the music I think shows it. The CD is reflective, introverted and generally not too interested in impressing the listener. My goal was to follow where the ideas might lead. Many of the tracks are based on improvisations I reworked into through-written pieces complete with written score.

Walden CD cover

Ken Pedersen’s Walden was released in 1998

Walden was released in 1998 on my own label Symark Records. I decided to send it out to some of the prominent (at the time) New Age publications and reviewers. I was surprised to find a good reception. In short order I had a distributor for the alternative music and book store market and received some nice published notices. Subsequently I received a good amount of alternative radio play as well. Walden was noticed enough to be named on the ‘Top 50 CDs of the Year’ by Backroads, and it made a brief appearance on the New Age Voice music charts. Walden found a niche in the Thoreau community and is still sold at the Shop at Walden Pond.  I was invited there to give a concert based on my Thoreau improvisations which was a highlight of the whole adventure.

With the positive feedback I was receiving, I decided to composed and record a second CD which I called Deja Views. The idea was to take well know claasical tunes as a basic for each track and to explore them in a New Age sensibility. Given that I had gotten some modest commercial success, my goals for the project included exploring if I might be able to open more commercial doors with this recording. Recordings like the Mozart Effect were doing well and the using of classical themes like those from Pachelbel were a familiar way to engage an audience.

Deja Views CD cover

Ken Pedersen’s Deja Views was released in 1999


With Deja Views, I used acoustic samples to accompany my piano and also collaborated with Judy Stone on cello for two of the tracks. There are more upbeat tracks (for new age music, that is) and in general the music is a bit more outgoing. Indeed the CD did find an audience. It was in the Top 10 on the NAV charts for six months, charted as high as #3 and appeared on NAV for nearly a year. My distributor was able to place Deja Views in many of the music chains including Borders and Tower Records nationally.

The record also was popular with radio, with over 600 stations playing it. I was featured on a number of programs and even had recorded audio FAQ on which I recorded answers so that radio hosts could conduct a virtual simulated interview with me. This was played in Chicago, Cleveland and on the Voice of America radio among other stations. In recent years, both Deja Views and Walden have been picked up by digital radio, with DMX and Sirius among its biggest recurring players.

The attention this CD received led to some discussions with several New Age labels that had international distribution, but they didn’t come together. Record stores were feeling the impact of digital competition. They started reducing SKUs and New Age music was one of the first to be cut deeply. Luckily, Amazon.com makes it possible to offer both the physical and digital versions of the music, not to forget the impact of itunes as well.

The Heart Aid Project was released in 2002

Ken Pedersen’s ‘The Dance Left Behind’ was included in the Heart Aid Project

Heart Aid Project

In 2002, I was invited to contribute a track to a compilation by the name of The Heart Aid Project. The CD was part of a fund-raiser for 9/11 survivors. Other composers include great names like Ray Lynch (“Deep Breakfast”), John Boswell (“Trust”) and Robin Spielberg, Michael Hoppe, Suzanne Ciana, and Windham Hill’s Ira Stein. The project was put together by Spring Hill.

Chicago Tribune Deja Views Concert 1999

May 18th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views No Responses

Here is the Chicago Tribune story about my 1999 concert in which I invited talented Glenbard South musicians to join me on stage. Click here for a rehearsal picture.

Wind and Wire Deja Views Review

April 8th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views No Responses

Review of Deja Views

Wind & Wire Magazine

April ’99


Ken Pedersen

Deja Views

Symark Records/1999

New Acoustic


Ken Pedersen has taken inspiration from twelve well-known classical pieces and created original works from them. This is a little audacious when you think about it, but Pedersen has created a real masterpiece! I expected actual arrangements of the various classics, but most tracks only hint of their original sources, and the new compositions are fresh and contemporary. This isn’t ‘Switched-On Bach ‘99’ by any stretch of the imagination! Several of the pieces are augmented with synth instrumentation, two are duets with cellist Judy Stone, and several were improvised in the studio to reflect Pedersen’s performing style. I’ve been hearing some incredible piano CDs lately, but this one rises right to the top.

The ‘inspirations’ come from all eras of piano music from Bach and Handel to Philip Glass, and the titles reflect significant moments in life. There are several favorite selections, but ‘Quest’ is such a soaring and yet gently flowing duet for piano and cello that I think it’s my top pick; its inspiration came from a rhythmic pattern used by Glass. Another real stand-out is the lively ‘Mind Candy’, inspired by the Shaker melody, ‘Simple Gifts’ – a joyous romp for piano and wind quartet that reminds me a little of Ray Lynch’s ‘Celestial Soda Pop’ in its buoyancy. I had doubts that anyone could bring anything new to the Pachelbel ‘Canon’, so ‘Reunion’ was a delightful surprise! ‘Autumn Rose’ is also a fun discovery with Pedersen’s joining of MacDowell’s ‘To a Wild Rose’ and Foster’s Oh Susanna’! The two themes run in and out of Pedersen’s piano improvisation and work perfectly together. ‘Tomorrow’s Memory’ was inspired by the often-murdered ‘Moonlight Sonata’ (it’s a piano teacher talking here!); the flowing triplets in the bass are about the only recognizable part of the original, and Pedersen’s expressive touch and emotional power make this an incredible piece. Wow! Each piece is strong and lovingly crafted in its own right, and the CD as a whole has a wonderful flow with warm, soothing qualities that should satisfy fans and non-fans of classical music. This is one of the best CDs I’ve heard!

– Kathy Parsons

Deja Views concert 1999

March 25th, 2012 by Ken Categories: 3) Music, Deja Views No Responses
Deja Views concert 1999

This article from the Daily Herald covered my collaboration with the students of Glenbard South High School in 1999. The concert was one aspect of the publicity I did for the release of Deja Views. The paper called it Celebration of Creativity

Ken Pedersen Conducts Glenbard South High School Students

For interview, reviewer tickets or more info, call
Ruthe or Randall at this PR agency, 719-548-9872


Local pianist and composer Ken Pedersen, known for his innovative “Parameter Improvs,” will celebrate his new nationally-released album, Deja Views, with “A Spring Solstice Concert: A Celebration of Hope” on Wednesday, April 21, 7:30 p.m. at the Glenbard South High School Auditorium in Glen Ellyn, Park Avenue and Butterfield Road (use Entrance 6). Tickets are $3 and are available at the door or by calling Symark Records in advance at 630-545-0776 or 800-616-0299.

“Of course, there is no such thing as a ‘spring solstice’,” states Pedersen, “because the official solstices come in the winter and summer. But spring is a special time of the year when hope is rekindled as warmth and rains bring nature’s rebirth with blossoms and greenery. A solstice is a turning point so we have declared a Spring Solstice as a time to both celebrate as well as reflect on what has gone before and what the future holds.”

Pedersen’s contemporary instrumental music bridges between the formal elements of classical, the peace and repose of “new acoustic,” and the improvisatory nature of jazz. In his concert he will perform his solo piano compositions and will collaborate on-stage with Chicago musical theatre actor and singer Allan Chambers. In addition, as part of his effort to involve each community in his shows, Pedersen also will perform with wind and string instrumentalists
from Glenbard South High School (most are Illinois Music Educator Association winners). Pedersen, who was born in the area and lives in Glen Ellyn, is a former president/boardmember of School District 89 (the K-8 district that feeds Glenbard South).

The concert will feature material from Pedersen’s just-released Deja Views CD — “Memory Awakened,” “Birth of Hope,” “Mind Candy,” “Reunion,” “Reminiscence,” and “Quest.” Each tune explores one of life’s major experiences. Although these pieces were written by Pedersen, he used famous classical melodies — by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Handel, Dvorak, Schumann and Chopin — as the jumping off point for his own compositions. “I tried to capture both the essence of what is great about classical music, but also what listeners today enjoy about contemporary instrumental music with its exploration, freshness and vitality.”

He also will perform material from his first album, Walden, which celebrated Henry David Thoreau’s book of the same name and the natural splendor of Walden Pond. Additionally Pedersen will present material written specially for his high school guest performers.

Pedersen will perform at least two “Parameter Improvs” (structured improvisations) at the concert. This is a technique he has been developing over the past two decades. Always popular with concert-goers, parameter improvs are spontaneous compositions based upon audience suggestions, such as a nature image, an emotion or an idea. Other times Pedersen puts numbers in a hat (the numbers correspond to tones on the musical scale) and has audience
members draw them out. Using these randomly-selected notes as the basis for his parameter improv, he leaps into the unknown developing the main melody and counter-melodies as he goes.

“It’s a challenge to create improvised pieces in which the audience sets the parameters,” explains Pedersen. “However, the audience enjoys them and it also gives them a framework in which to interpret my playing. Parameter suggestions can vary widely. At my Walden concert in Boston last year, one of the suggestions was ‘Thoreau riding a mountain bike around Walden Pond.’ Now that’s a parameter! Creativity works best when there are limits, and setting limits helps me build structure into a piece.”

Allan Chambers, who will join Pedersen onstage, is a well-known Chicago-area musical theatre performer and director. His recent roles include Olizar (“the angel of death”) in “Fat Tuesday” at the New Tuners Theatre, and Jean Peghulla in “The House of Martin Guerre” at The Goodman Theatre.