Grammy Nominee Chairs Visual and Performing Arts Division

Tatevik Manucharyan, El Vaquero Staff Writer

He is a musician, a piano teacher, a choir director, and an organist. He is a Grammy nominee and the winner of a national piano competition. His favorite composers are Chopin and Rachmaninoff. His favorite pastime: dirt biking.

“He’s very positive, he’s fun, he’s enthusiastic about what he’s doing. He’s a great colleague. I feel like I’m coming to work to be with a friend rather than just somebody who’s in the office next door. He’s a good friend.” This is how one of his colleagues, Beth Pflueger, describes Peter Green.

Formerly the music department chair, Green, 44, has chaired the entire Visual and Performing Arts Division of Glendale Community College as of September 2011.

The division is composed of the departments of animation, art history, ceramics, dance, graphic design, media arts, music, photography, studio arts and theater arts.

In addition to heading 10 different departments, he teaches advanced piano and directs the Concert Singers Choir at GCC. He has also been the choir director of the Monrovia Presbyterian Church for the past 17 years and the organist of the church since January of this year.

Leo Thomasian, 20, a music student, who has had piano lessons with Green for the past three years, had the following to say about him: “He’s a great teacher. I love his personality. He’s really easy-going. I feel like he’s like your friend. It’s just like a student teaching a student.”

Another music student, Emin Baghoomian, 20, who has taken four classes with Green, said, “He’s awesome. Every time I play something wrong, he always calmly explains to me. He’s very patient and always smiles.”
Born and raised in a small, quiet community on the island of Newfoundland, Canada, Green started playing the piano when he was 8.

“My aunt had a piano, and every time I’d go to her house, I loved to play. They weren’t using it, so they gave it to us, and my parents put me in piano lessons,” Green says.

“When you’re a kid, you don’t know if you’re any good at it. You just know if you like it,” tells the professor about his early years of playing the piano.

Yet, gifted as he was, for not only did he win numerous local piano competitions, but he also became a champion on the national level at age 19, winning the 1987 Canadian National Competition for Piano.

After completing his undergraduate education at Memorial University of Newfoundland, he moved to the United States at age 22 to pursue a master’s and subsequently, a doctorate degree in music at USC.

Stewart Gordon, a piano teacher at USC, urged him to study there after hearing his performance during a piano competition in Canada.

“I really want you to come to the United States to study piano with me. I will give you a scholarship, I’ll come to the airport and pick you up, I’ll find an apartment for you,” were the words of Gordon, says Green.

“So he put the deposit down on the apartment for me, he drove me there and took me shopping because I didn’t have a car; I didn’t know anybody,” recalls the professor about his first days in Los Angeles.

When he’s not heading 10 departments, giving piano lessons, directing two different choirs, or playing the organ at the church, he likes to ride his motorcycle on the scenic trails behind his Lake Arrowhead cabin.

Twice a year, during his summer and winter vacations, he visits his parents and relatives in Newfoundland. Although the U.S. feels like home because he has lived here since 1990, Newfoundland is home, too, because of his loved ones who still live there, Green says.

In 2008, he recorded an album with two of his friends – Italian flutist Vieri Bottazzini, from Istanbul, Turkey, and French horn player Bruce Bonnell, from Mount Pleasant, Mich. The album, titled “Souvenirs,” was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2009.

Presently, Green is focused on maintaining the excellence of the Visual and Performing Arts Division programs despite the budget cuts.

About 10 percent of the programs in all 10 departments have been cut so far, and it is likely that another 5 percent will be cut next fall.

“I feel like now, with all the cuts that we’ve had, we are pretty much bare bones. If we cut any more, it’s really going to negatively affect the programs,” Green says.

“Some classes are multiple, so once you cut those, it’s fine. But if you cut the only Piano 1 class or the only Keyboard Harmony class, then there’s no more. And it’s hard for students to graduate. If our classes get smaller and smaller, we’re going to be less attractive to students, and they’re going to go to other places.”

He expressed hopes for not only maintaining the programs, but also promoting growth in the Visual and Performing Arts Division.

A large pianoforte takes up most of the floor space in Green’s office. Music takes up just as much space in his life. It was a love that started in childhood, and lasted a lifetime.