The Piano Sounds of Peter Noonan
Noonan, born in Springfield, Illinois, began playing piano early in life. After he was shown basic chord structure by his older brother Patrick, Noonan began performing original songs for his kindergarten class. Formal lessons and classical training followed, from first grade to college instruction with the late Veron Buckley. Music continued at college, studying music theory, advanced jazz, and other specialties in the music school of DePauw University while pursuing an economics degree.
Live performances were always a part of growing up, starting from playing in garage bands in middle school and high school. College was the debut of solo performances, where Noonan played solo piano for 1,400 folks on the stage of Kresge Hall for DePauw’s parents day, and performed at DePauw’s annual campus wide talent show and competition, winning first place all three years entered.
A career in banking in St. Louis followed upon graduation from DePauw. After a couple of years of focus on banking, Noonan missed the piano and began spending significant time creating expressive piano movements and patterns. By 1988, these movements had become songs that Noonan felt needed to be recorded.
Using vacation time from the bank, Noonan recorded these songs and his debut CD, Café at Arles, emerged. The key to Noonan was making sure that everything was recorded live in the studio with no overdubs or additions. It is meant to reflect the craft of what one person can do at one time with just their two hands and their instrument.
Café at Arles was self released in 1990 to critical praise. The New Progressive Music Journal reviewer writes that Noonan: “composes piano music that paints memories and atmosphere with such beauties as Vincent van Gogh exhibited in his paintings…” St. Louis Magazine notes “ the compact disc is no remake of George Winston’s seasons. It’s a driving, private memoir, blending nostalgia with the passion of the present. The piano dives, dips, hesitates, then plunges…”
Through the early 1990’s, Café at Arles was building a loyal following of new and repeat clients through both small record stores and mail order. During this period Noonan was writing interesting songs that possesses more of the dynamics and energy of live performance. These songs became the heart of Noonan’s 1995 release The Orchard, an eclectic mix that includes more rhythmic influences than the calmer Café at Arles.
Noonan took a leave of absence from his banking career in 1995 upon the release of The Orchard and built up the mail order side of the business, as well as the new options made available through websites and e-mail.
While preparing for his holiday concert in 1995, Noonan began working on some interesting arrangements of traditional holiday songs, which became the 1996 release Tis the Season. Noonan went on to perform in 10 solo piano concerts at the historic Sheldon Concert Hall from 1996 to 2000.
In 1997 Noonan began working with his brother Patrick on a project of that would feature Patrick on guitar, Chris Noonan on percussion, Peter on piano, and a host of other guest artists. During this time their cousin Scott Mckinley was lost in an auto accident at the age of 40. The ensuing recording, Scott’s Red Star, was dedicated in Scott’s honor, and the cover art was pulled from a large canvas that Scott had painted a few years before. The recording includes instrumental standards such as Afro Blue and Summertime, Irish music, folk music, world music and a few of originals.
In 2001 Peter was married and started his journey into family life. It was also time to return to the traditional workforce, this time specializing in historic preservation, tax credits, and legislative advocacy.
Pete completed The Wedding Dance CD in 2001, again using vacation time to get to the recording studio. This CD was a twist as it was almost all cover songs (versus originals), many of which had been performed at his Sheldon Concert Hall performances during the previous five years.
Four children later, the recordings and live performances were put in hold. This is about to end, as Noonan has a concert scheduled for December 14, 2013, and has two (2) new recording projects on the schedule for the next couple of years…