June 14, 2018

Remembering Peter Magadini

When Tomoko attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the mid 1960s, there were fewer than a hundred students. But they were serious musicians, and several of them went on to noteworthy success. One of those students who was a classmate of Tomoko was Peter Magadini.

Peter and Tomoko started their studies the same year. Peter was the only percussionist in the Conservatory. Peter was planning to enroll at San Francisco State University in order to study with New York Philharmonic timpanist Roland Kohloff. However, Roland was not available, so Peter continued to drive up 19th Avenue when he saw the sign for the Conservatory, and applied there. Not only did the Conservatory want a percussion student, but soon he was able to have Roland Kohloff as his personal teacher.

Peter and Tomoko became musical friends. Peter remembers, “I hardly ever saw Tomoko – she was always coming in or out of a practice room, that’s when I saw her.” As for Tomoko, she remembers Peter saying that Bartok was too hard; Tomoko, on the other hand, considers Bartok as one of her favorite composers to perform. In any case, years later Peter invited Tomoko to do a concert with him, featuring Ravel’s “Chansons mad├ęcasses.” 

Similarly to Tomoko, who became a piano teacher after her graduation from the Conservatory, Peter too taught at his alma mater.

However, he has moved several times since then: to Los Angeles – where he joined Diana Ross’s tour band, to Toronto where he earned a master’s degree in music and later taught at McGill and Concordia in Montreal, and back to California. Not only has Peter performed with major entertainers such as the George Duke Trio (which he helped form), Bobbie Gentry, Al Jarreau, Buddy Tate, Chet Baker, Don Ellis, and Smokey Robinson. He was also introduced to polymeter through studying with Ali Akbar Kahn, and wrote two distinguished books on polyrhythms. 

The Conservatory has served as a solid foundation for many musicians such as Tomoko's classmate Peter Magadini. Tomoko has experienced the Conservatory both as a student and for fifty years now as an influential teacher.