Interview with Musical Duo Pressman & Ponzek

December 9, 2009 at 11:43 am 2 comments

Pressman & Ponzek:
A Natural Collaboration!

Pressman & Ponzek are a musical duo consisting of pianist, vocalist, composer and producer Lisa Pressman and guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, composer, arranger and producer Tim Ponzek.  Combining their many musical skills and talents, Lisa and Tim have worked together for many years and have created their own unique musical signature style.

Together in their latest recording “Tomorrow the World,” they draw upon their musical kinship and their extensive studies of the Latin, Jazz and Classical repertoire. Lisa’s crystalline piano and pure vocals combine with Tim’s romantic classical guitar to create a delightful, relaxing and even ethereal listening experience on “Tomorrow The World.”  The energy of their dynamic musical interplay can be experienced as well as in Lisa and Tim’s previous release “if the sky was home”.

In addition to their recordings, Lisa and Tim have made their music available in sheet music form for other performers to experience and share:  piano/vocal scores, piano scores, guitar charts and now lead sheets.

Lisa and Tim live in one of my favorite spots on the planet – the desert of Arizona.  In listening to their music,  I feel like their special collaboration of Inspirational music is influenced at least a little by the beauty of the desert — its rhythms, melodies and harmonies played out in sweeping landscapes, plant and animal life.  It turns out that other parts of nature also play a deeply creative role in inspiring their shimmering music.

Find out how this dynamic duo works together and what makes their collaboration so natural.


JW:  Lisa, do you have a first memory or impression of music in your life?

Lisa:  I remember watching the “Sound of Music” for the first time and being completely swept away by Julie Andrews. Her magnificent voice and beautiful persona captured my imagination! My sisters and I were always putting on little shows for our parents and my favorite song to sing was “The hills are alive …”

JW:  Tim, how about you?

Tim: My dad liked to sing old country songs. One by one he sent my brothers and me to music teachers to learn piano and guitar.  I think he was tired of singing by himself and he wanted us to accompany him.  Apparently he didn’t mind waiting.  I learned how to accompany singers playing for him.

JW:  When did each of you first know that you wanted to be musicians?

Tim:  I began learning an instrument at the age of six.  I was like a fish to water; I was home.  At the age of ten or eleven, I performed with my three older brothers in their rock band and that was that.  I found my calling and I never looked back.  I just try to keep getting better: to play better and to write better.  It’s a lifetime commitment.

Lisa:  Ballet was the first after-school activity my mother enrolled us in, and for me, it was totally not the place to be. My foot was meant for a piano pedal so at the age of five, I began piano lessons and loved every moment. From grade school through high school I was always the one playing the shows and accompanying the choral groups. I think I was born knowing that music would be my life though the path it has led me on has had many interesting turns.

JW:  Since you are a team that writes together often, how does your collaboration work?

Tim:  We have such different writing styles.  Lisa truly lets music flow through her and onto the page.  I like to tinker with every note and every word.  When we write together I usually like to get Lisa started with a few chords or a feel and she composes a beautiful melody on top of it and then we let it unfold from there.  It’s usually complete when Lisa is finished; but I’ll still try to tinker with it some more.

Lisa:  Or I might hear something Tim is working on and jump in. I have a knack for adding a new section to a song that Tim has already been writing! For example, when I hear a line that I know I will be singing, I look for ways to extend the vocal range to make the line soar.

JW:  And as individuals, how do you each approach composition and lyric writing?  What is your process?

Tim:  Ninety-nine percent of the time I will begin with a title or an opening line.  When I start with a title, I always know where the song is headed.  Once I have that, I can try different lines until I say exactly what I want to say. It’s like walking to a grocery store, as long as you can see the store ahead of you, you can’t get too lost. The music is either written with or after the lyrics. Other times I think of some chords to put together or some notes of a melody and then I’ll go over to the piano or guitar and try them out. Many of our instrumental songs are written this way.

Lisa:  I wait until there is a melody in the “in box”. Then I sit at the piano and write the music that comes through.

JW:  Do you have a personal definition of creativity that you would share?

Lisa & Tim:  Creativity is God flowing through us.

JW:  I love that answer.  It’s short and to the point.  To me, it’s what makes your collaboration “divine.”

Tim, what inspires you?

Tim:  All aspects of life and music inspire me. God and love, tears and pain.  I’ll do my best to write a song about it. For example, there’s a song titled Now You See on my upcoming CD, Every Room An Ocean View, that begins with the line that was inspired from a newscast about a storm that had hit Phoenix that day:

“Fifteen hundred lightning strikes all in a single hour
Lots of wind and rain, put on quite a show
But behind every lightning strike is a radiating power
Flash across the sky so often, it looks like a steady glow
Now You See what my love is like….”

It amazes me sometimes what can be an inspiration for a song; but Now You See became a beautiful and powerful love song.

JW:  I love that a wild and beautiful storm on the desert became your muse for a work of art. What about you, Lisa?

Lisa: Dark chocolate!

JW:  Hah!  I can certainly relate!  We keep exotic bars of dark chocolate from all over the world around to nibble.  It’s always good to find fellow Dark Chocolate lovers!! (Hey readers, check out Peter Link’s blog article Inspirational Chocolate!!)

Lisa:  Most certainly I am inspired by the mysteries – the mystery of Life and the mystery of God.  My song Tan Azul Como Siempre (As Blue As Forever, from the CD If The Sky Was Home) was inspired by a line from the movie “Shirley Valentine” when in one scene the water was described as being “as deep as forever”. I thought that was an extraordinary image and one I could capture in music.  By using a slow Latin rhythm beneath the sultry melody we portray the water extending into eternity.

Listen to Lisa’s “Tan Azul Como Siempre”

JW: This is so interesting, Lisa and Tim:  you each find moments, lines, scenes – or they find you – and from these ideas come inspiration for your own creative work.  It’s fascinating to me that the desert storm and the ocean each played a significant role in shaping these songs you mention.

Tim, does spirituality play a role in the creation and performance of your music, and if so, can you share with us how that works?

Tim: I believe that everything we create here on earth has a spiritual basis.  There are some songs that Lisa and I have written that I play at home just to feel the emotional lift.  Lisa is recording some of these songs on her next CD, Deep In The Mist. Those songs must have captured some spiritual spark to be that effective.

Lisa:  And I am so excited about the songs on Deep In The Mist! I am actually singing words this time in addition to my signature “vocalise”. Hope, love and forgiveness permeate these songs. When I perform, I simply open my heart and let the music flow forth.

JW:  In addition to your many beautiful scores for piano, voice and guitar on WFM, you have written a number of Christmas and Holiday songs. Can you tell us a little about your inspiration and process in creating these songs?  Do you have a favorite of these that stands out to you?

Tim:  This was something I wanted to do. I wanted to write some new Christmas songs and to feel that I’m adding to the wealth of beautiful Christmas music with my digital EP Believing In Christmas.

Lisa: The first Christmas I spent with Tim and his family was amazing! We played and sang all the wonderful Christmas favorites, enjoyed a scrumptious feast prepared by Tim’s Mom, and exchanged gifts beside a beautifully decorated Christmas tree.  All the Christmas lights were lit in the windows – it was so warm and loving.

Tim: I wrote This Christmas House as homage to my parents’ home when I was growing up.  That’s the way our home felt.  Friends and family were always stopping by and everyone was always welcome.

Believing In Christmas was written to sound like an old Christmas song from the 40’s or 50’s.  While the theme is family and friendship, the song also reminds us, “Let’s not forget whose birthday this is…”

Lisa and I co-wrote The Truest Christmas.  That song makes me smile every time I hear it. It’s so uplifting and happy with lyrics such as “The Truest Christmas fills our lives with Peace”.

Speaking In Songs was written after coming home one night and seeing so many wonderful Christmas lights in the neighborhood.  One of my favorite lines in the song is “The colored lights, like starry nights, that live inside my dreams”. It’s a song about the oneness of us all, and how we feel it especially at Christmastime.

In Love With The Spirit Of Christmas is simply about how we all become better people when we feel the Christmas Spirit within us.

As far as having a favorite, I believe that songs are like children.  You don’t want to pick a favorite or else the other songs will gang up on you. And, I would like to add that I’ve written another six or seven Christmas songs that Lisa and I are recording and will be available next year.

JW:  I love that thought about songs being like children.  Each one is unique and has special qualities and ways to share and inspire all on its own.  We will look forward to discovering new views of Christmas next year when your new songs become available.  In the meantime, I urge our readers to check out your current catalogue of Christmas songs – they are beautiful!

Listen to “Speaking In Songs”

from the EP “Believing In Christmas”
Words & Music by Tim Ponzek

If I look into the lights, the colors of my dream
Will I see in shades of night, the stories seldom seen?

If I forget the things I know; erase mistakes I’ve made
Could I be part of the show; at least, the parade?

The colored lights, like starry nights
That live within my dream

There we stand with open hearts and all of us belong
Still in progress this work of art, Speaking In Songs

Every wish another line scribbled down in haste
Words drifting through space and time, stardust in their wake

Can I walk where angels dance?  And see the things they see
Peace and love and happiness and quietly believe

The colored lights, like starry nights
That live within my dream

There we stand with open hearts and all of us belong
Still in progress this work of art, Speaking In Songs

Copyright©2001 Opus Fromus (BMI). All Rights Reserved

JW:  Well, as usual, I love the closing questions that James Lipton always asks his guests on his show Inside The Actor’s Studio, so I am going to borrow them here:

First, what profession would you choose to do if you weren’t in music?

Tim:  When I was a child, I thought that archaeology would be a good profession.  Just dig and dig and dig until you hit something, then unearth it, clean it off and bring it to the light and see if it has any value.  Come to think of it, that’s what I do in my songwriting!

Lisa: I would own a nursery and play in the garden all day.

JW:  What profession would you NEVER do?

Tim:  I have learned to never say never.  Whoops, I just said it twice.

Lisa: Ditto!

JW:  Any summary comments?

Lisa:  We are so thrilled to have the opportunity to share our music with the Watchfire Music audiences. We always believed there was a special place for our music and we feel it is here at Watchfire Music. Many, many thanks to Peter Link for finding us! And thank you Julia Wade!

JW:  It’s been really fun and illuminating talking with you two.  Thanks so much for taking the time to let us into your world.  Happy holidays to you both!

This concludes the Inspiratus Interview with Pressman &Ponzek.

Find out more about Pressman & Ponzek
Explore their sheet music and mp3s.


About Pressman & Ponzek

Lisa Pressman started playing music at an early age. She studied piano and composition at Towson State University in Baltimore. Lisa earned her Masters degree in music composition at Temple University in Philadelphia and she did her post-doctoral piano studies in the casinos of Atlantic City playing Jazz, Latin, and Popular music. Lisa has also studied with Metropolitan Opera star Isola Jones whose teachings were essential for Lisa’s ethereal vocalise.

Lisa’s musical performances have taken her to many places on both the East and West coasts. In Los Angeles, Lisa’s song “A Fighting Chance” (from angel dreaming: a new dream) was chosen for The Paul Rodriquez film “A Million To Juan”.

Originally from Philadelphia, Tim Ponzek is a versatile musician whose repertoire ranges from Jazz to Classical to Americana. Tim studied piano and composition at Temple University. At the same time, Tim and his three brothers ran a recording studio. Music was always a major part of his life. Tim also studied arranging in New York with world renown arrangers Don Sebesky and Manny Albam.

Moving to the West coast Tim focused on writing, singing and performing. Tim’s first solo recording as a singer-songwriter was titled “right to the edge”. Tim has also collaborated on recordings as a writer and performer with world music saxophonist Jessie Allen Cooper (“Moment In Time”, “Sound Travels”, “Lake Of The Heart”, “Pacific Lounge”) and jazz drummer John Alberti (“Implication and Innuendo”). Tim’s newest solo release is titled “Faded Blue Dreams”.


Inspiratus Interview by
Julia Wade,
Director of Digital Sheet Music

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Entry filed under: Inspiration, Inspirational Music, Inspirational Poetry, Inspirational Sheet Music, Inspiratus, Inspiratus Interviews, Performance, Sheet Music. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Interview with Carolyn Kardinal – Part 2 Christmas Presence in Baltimore, Boston and on The Web!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Debbie "O"  |  December 11, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Fabulous interview! Very touched by “Speaking in Songs”. It reminds us all to be gentle and patient with ourselves and with others. And, that photo at the end is so happy! Wow!

  • 2. Eileen Borris  |  December 17, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I am blown away! I love everything you do. Words can not express how I feel.


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