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International reviews

… . Indeed, the inception from, and increasingly inescapable sound of, the descamisados coming together as a force in the dance’s closing scene is so perfectly modulated in Salem’s score and Ochoa’s choreography that the audience can sense the ground trembling like an approaching political earthquake. 

Jerry Hochman 10 Sep 2022 CriticalDance

Peter Salem's score, performed by just five musicians, propels the narrative while retaining key elements of the Latin sound … .  A production this sharp, transformative and fun renders any words written about it unsatisfactory. To understand it, just go see it. 

Lora Strum 10 Sep 2022 broadwayworld

The percussive composition of Peter Salem, which is based on Mexican music genres, is as compelling as a film soundtrack.

Edo Dijksterhuis 11 Jun 2020 Het Parool

… … Salem’s excellent bespoke score, performed by the Het Balletorkest under the direction of Matthew Rowe.

Graham Watts 10 Feb 2020 dancetabs

In a word, this new choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa to music by Peter Salem is breathtaking… the ballet is a feast for the eyes and ears

Thea Derks 6 Feb 2020 Theatrekrant

Played live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra, Peter Salem’s unsettling, detailed and carefully textured score underpins the dark narrative with a light-and-shade balance of bubbling, edgy percussion and zig-zagging strings, weighed-down with ominous bass legato – often rich and rhapsodic, but never murky or dense, and always descriptive.

David White 4 Aug 2019 artmag

Peter Salem’s score ingeniously intertwines solemn, liturgical sounds with rich melodies and discordant electronic passages, bringing to life the community’s fear of the supernatural, creating an other-worldliness. The low strings and percussion build unease and tension, then seamlessly evolve into rich, melodic accompaniments to the Proctor’s pas de deux. The incorporation of sound effects throughout, from familiar church and courtroom sounds to whispers, screams and bird calls, mirrors the fear of the encroachment of the supernatural into the community of Salem and the distrust among its population.

Libby Chambers 5 Aug 2019 Reviewsphere

…this International Festival premiere is everything you want it to be: dramatically cogent, compact and clear, starkly handsome (the costumes are by Emma Kingsbury, who shares credit for the set with the chief lighting designer David Finn), superbly scored by a composer, who eerily happens to be named Peter Salem, and beautifully danced. In short, with this bewitchingly good touring production Scottish Ballet has a hit on its hands.

Donald Hutera 5 Aug 2019 The Times

It’s all brilliantly realised by the company, and supported by a shattering score by the aptly named Peter Salem. With great skill he matches sound to action: a great clatter of drums for Proctor’s unleashed passion; a whomp of violins for the wild and whirring Walpurgis night dances in the woods; screeches of strings as people meet their fate.

Sarah Crompton 11 Aug 2019 The Guardian

Much atmosphere also comes from the pools of moody lighting (David Finn), but the most striking non-dance element is Peter Salem’s score – played live by the Scottish Ballet orchestra and reinforced with found sounds – a bird flapping (a raven one fancies), a tolling bell and some electronic oppressive darkness. It’s deeply layered and is very tightly integrated into the work – at times the sounds and stage action sync to millisecond accuracy which adds breath-taking punch to what you see. It’s no surprise to learn that Salem first did a soundtrack to a National Theatre version of The Crucible back in 1990 – he is steeped in the plot, and it shows/hears.

Bruce Marriott 17 Aug 2019 dancetabs

Peter Salem’s atmospheric score mixes devotional songs with jolting electro crow caws and shrieking strings, while David Finn’s spare set and lighting amplifies the gloom.

Anna Winter 4 Aug 2019 The Guardian

Lopez Ochoa’s vision and the dancers’ captivating performances combined with innovative set design and Peter Salem’s original score make me eager for more full-length works from both this choreographer and BalletX’s stellar company.

Melissa Strong 15 Jul 2019

One would hope that there is an eventual recording of composer Peter Salem’s original music for this ballet. Salem performs the score at the back of the stage with an array of acoustic and electronic keyboard instruments.  From electric violin and harpsichord and banjo, world folk themes and synth drives give way to mystic sound-fields.

Lewis J Whittington 15 Jul 2019 The Dance Journal &

Peter Salem’s score with its Hispanic rhythms, marimba, brass and percussion adds Mexican flavour and he borrows a painfully romantic folksong “La Llorona” (“Weeping Woman”). Dieuweke van Reij’s design takes colours and motifs from Kahlo’s paintings (Kahlo’s core costume, for instance, from her “Broken Column”).

Howard Loxton 20 Jan 2015 British Theatre Guide

But for all the breathtaking imagery, what ultimately drives the performance is Cao’s indomitable Frida, paired with Max Westwell’s compassionate and charismatic Diego Rivera, and Peter Salem’s Mexican flavored score. With humor, grit and visceral physicality, “Broken Wings” tells the story of an artist shaped by hardship, but ultimately defined by triumph.

Meghan Feeks 19 Apr 2012

Peter Salem’s score is extraordinary. The wonderful ENB Philharmonic are set challenges with all three works, not least needing to co-ordinate with recordings, and they rise to it magnificently under the ever skilful baton of Gavin Sutherland. Everything was polished and exact. The percussion must be especially commended as they have to play a bicycle wheel and traditional Chinese instruments! Not to be left out, the horns get to pretend that they are Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass but playing a version of The Internationale that appears to have been arranged by John Cage. Fragments come and go, sometimes distorted, as if they were written on scraps of paper which the orchestra have been told to play at random.

Charlotte Kasner 13 Apr 2016

Peter Salem’s original music, interwoven with mariachi bands and Mexican folk was rhythmically extraordinary at times and perfectly simple at others, revealing the inner world of Ochoa’s Frida.

Chloe Billington 13 Apr 2016

Peter Salem’s tuneful mix of South American style tunes fits the action perfectly.

Stuart Sweeney 14 Apr 2016

At any rate, the piece that breaks that cycle of Rojo’s, opens this programme and inspired Perry’s offering, turns out to be really rather special. Entitled Broken Wings, and reuniting Lopez Ochoa, Meckler and Streetcar composer Peter Salem, it explores the life and mind of the celebrated Mexican painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954).

It begins noirishly and abstractly, with the young Kahlo (Rojo) emerging on top of a large cube, surrounded by a part-playful, part-menacing cohort of demons adroitly decked out as Day of the Dead participants. Thereafter, these characters – deftly conceived, unmistakably Mexican emblems of psychological torment and malign fortune– are never far away, constantly waiting to pounce. As, indeed, they soon do.

With Rojo effortlessly passing for 18, Kahlo dances an engagingly carefree duet with a young fellow (Cesar Corrales), whereupon Salem’s light-hearted but rhythmically complex music suddenly screeches to a halt, the colour instantly drains from the stage, and she is brutally snatched into the air by her skeletal coterie.

Mark Monahan 14 Apr 2016

And its triumph is inseparable from Peter Salem’s score, a vast exotic landscape in itself. Blasts of Tijuana brass and louche maracas summon the heat of a Mexican fiesta, a husky Mexican balladeer croons along with the love affair, and Salem even finds a musical solution to the crash on the public bus. Here is a composer who understands exactly what a ballet needs to motor it along. Hats off, too, to conductor Gavin Sutherland and the ENB Philharmonic. This is exciting work, excitingly executed.

Jenny Gilbert 15 Apr 2016

While the various costumes by Sandra Woodall were divine and the large, wiry set design by David Finn and Emma Kingsbury was impressively detailed, the show stealer was the combination of composer Peter Salem’s new score with the vast emotions explored through the many characters, expertly depicted under Pickett’s mentorship. Salem, who has previously composed a score for A Streetcar Named Desire, another Williams’ play turned into a full-length ballet in Scotland, created this rich and complex soundscape that was performed wonderfully by The Atlanta Ballet Orchestra. His music is beautifully suggestive of the love, greed, disappointment, anxiety and hope danced on stage.

Chelsea Thomas 20 Mar 2015

Music, choreography and emotion were as intertwined as the characters, whose fraught stories unfolded through strains drifting in and out as in a dream. Performed by the Atlanta Ballet orchestra under conductor Ari Pelto, Peter Salem’s score evoked a circus; the hypnotic Gypsy, with violin melodies both plaintive and seductive; a toreador’s horn; the indefatigable Klezmer; and an after-hours vaudeville show. Kilroy’s sparkling minimalist theme was light shining in darkness.

Cynthia Bond Perry 23 Mar 2015 ArtsAtl

Salem's music is richly evocative of love, hate, tenderness, pain, fear, and hope. The powerful drums are the heartbeat of the main character, but also of life itself, pounding above the poignant melodies. I think Tennessee Williams' story has been waiting for this music ever since the play was written. 

Amy Howton 23 Mar 2015 The Backstage Beat

… Peter Salem’s excellent new score

Mark Brown 13 Apr 2012 The Telegraph

… vital asset is its atmospheric and sustaining new score by Peter Salem - dramatic and evocative

David Dougill 22 Apr 2012 The Sunday Times

The dancers were brilliantly served by Peter Salem’s atmospheric score, which blended elements of jazz, obsessive minimalist figures, dissonant crashes and keening string romance

Laura Dodge 27 Apr 2012

… Peter Salem’s score is a crucial narrative ingredient, both in it’s graphic sound effects and in the musical colours of it’s fractured percussion and insinuating jazz

Judith Mackrell 27 Apr 2012 The Guardian

The score, most of it live from a band in the pit, some of it recorded atmospheric noise, is the chief motor of this Streetcar. Drawing on a range of styles, from polite wedding waltzes to juicy New Orleans jazz to Philip Glass-ish noodling, it doesn't just underpin the action but offers emotional pointers ahead of the game. A blind man would know where he was in the story. The climax, where the "Paper Moon" theme shatters into a pile-up of discordant shards, isn't just a stirring aural metaphor for the chaos in Blanche's head, you can imagine it really is the sound in her head.

Jenny Gilbert 29 Apr 2012 The Independent

The dancers were brilliantly served by Peter Salem’s atmospheric score, which blended elements of jazz, obsessive minimalist figures, dissonant crashes and keening string romance

Chris Waddington 5 Oct 2013 The Times Picayune

This production would not be the same without the evocative, jazz-infused score and fascinating sound effects created by Peter Salem. …the music aptly reflected the wide-ranging moods of the story from happiness and optimism to unsettling fear and gloomy despair, adding an extra layer of emotional nuance to this brilliant piece of theatrical dance.

Oksana Khadarina 15 Jun 2015

Composer Peter Salem’s beguiling music, performed by the Opera House Orchestra, included a mix of jazz, swing, mournful saxophone and unnerving piano notes that wafted like smoke and doom, all of which imbued the ballet with just the right off-kilter atmosphere.

Sarah Kaufman 29 May 2012 The Washington Post