10 Questions with musician Peter Sprague


Peter Sprague was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1955 into a musical family.

They moved to Del Mar in 1963. He started playing guitar when he was 12, and attended a year of study at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. In 1976 he moved to Boston where he studied with classical guitarist Albin Czak and jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. Moving back to California in 1978, he formed a group called The Dance Of The Universe Orchestra, featuring vocalist Kevyn Lettau.

He recorded four albums with Charles McPherson and later established a long-standing performing and recording relationship with Chick Corea. He also organized Chick’s music in book form for publishing, and published his own transcription book of Chick’s piano solos. Sprague has recorded over 20 of his own records and has been part of over 300 recordings.

In 1985 he accepted teaching positions at both the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. He also published several books of his teaching and compositions. Sprague has performed and recorded with Dianne Reeves, Sergio Mendes, Hubert Laws, Billy Childs and David Benoit.

Sprague has a recording studio where he records, produces, and composes. In 2015 Sprague was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the San Diego Music Awards.

1: What brought you to Encinitas?

My family and I were living in Del Mar. I grew up there and still LOVE the place. We wanted to find a house off the busy Del Mar Heights road that we were living on and when we found our house in Encinitas it was an easy decision to pick up and move. I LOVE this place!

2: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

It’s a magic spot already and two improvements would be one, a performing arts center constructed on the Pacific View property and two, an artificial reef be installed between Moonlight Beach and Stone Steps. How fun would that be?

3: Who or what inspires you?

My family, nature, music, the ocean, the stars, humans, dogs, love.

4: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

It’d be a music party with John Coltrane, Bach, Fredrick Chopin, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, and Allison Krauss.

5: What are your favorite movies?

Kinda too many to list. Shawshank Redemption! I love movies but these days I dig TV shows too. You ever see Friday Night Lights? We really liked that. Also, Mad Men was a ride!

6: What’s the most challenging aspect of what you do, and what’s the most rewarding?

To stay creative and loose I still have to practice a lot. A big concert or recording is coming up and I need to put a lot of time mastering the music. I seem to attract other musos who embrace semi-complicated music. Maybe because I, too, write music along those lines. Anyway, it takes a lot of time bringing the music into focus and readying it for performance. And when it’s all complete, we play the concert, we do well, the audience feels it, that’s a golden fulfilling moment.

7: What do you do for fun?

Well actually playing music is so fun. Surfing too! And out to dinner with my family it friends is a hoot.

8: What is it that you most dislike?

The endless traffic that overtakes our freeways. I try and structure my time on the road around the clogged roads but every now and then I’m right in the middle of it. Not a good time!

9: What do you hope to accomplish next?

I’ve got a composing commission coming up and I’ve already established a few of the themes so that’ll be fun working out the deets and having some new music to play.

10. What is your motto or philosophy of life?

This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson has always spoken to me:

A poet’s habit of living should be set on a key so low and plain that the common influences should delight him. His cheerfulness should be the gift of sunlight, the air should suffice for his inspiration, and he should be tipsy with water.

10 Questions is an Encinitas Advocate feature spotlighting noteworthy people in the community.