COMPOSER SPOTLIGHT: DANIEL DE TOGNI, "SING ME INTO SINGING" AND "ITERATIONS: 4 PIECES FOR NARRATOR, OBOE, AND PIANO"
This week will see the world premieres of two new compositions by MCI composer Daniel de Togni. "Sing Me Into Singing" will be premiered at the San Fransisco Conservatory of Music on Wednesday April 24th, while "Iterations: 4 Pieces for Narrator, Oboe, and Piano" will make its debut on Friday April 26th at the University of Central Arkansas. The latter piece, as well as another work by the composer titled "BEAT," will also be performed at Rad Sol 2019, a concert series founded by de Togni which aims to promote and perform concert music by composers in Arkansas.
We had the opportunity to speak with the composer about both of his new works. Read on to learn more about the inspirations that compelled him to create this new music:
Describe your inspirations for composing the pieces.
Last Spring, I was commissioned by my good friend, classical guitarist John Vidovic, to write Sing Me Into Singing, a solo guitar piece for his masters degree guitar recital. Iterations was commissioned by several faculty members from my undergraduate college, University of Central Arkansas - Dr. Duso-Kitts, Dr. Murakami, and the Dean of Fine Arts, Terry Wright.
What is the overall conception for the pieces (for example, is it programmatic or abstract? Is there a specific formal structure, color, or musical device you employed?)
With Sing Me Into Singing, I wanted to write a piece that was very driven by Americana/folk idioms. As a result, the finger-picking style is quite prevalent throughout the piece. I grew up listening to many amazing blue grass guitarists and wanted to capture the intimacy of the lone guitarist playing a piece of music at the campfire.
With Iterations, the four pieces create atmospheres around the angular poetry that was created by Terry Wright. The underlying emotion gluing each piece to the next is a subtle feeling of dread. Each movement is a vignette, painting colors around the text and creating an overarching musical story.
Regarding the text Terry Wright says-
“I have pasted in six poems for consideration. They are taken from an ongoing series called "Google Poems." There are two series related books currently in progress: "Obama Iteration" and "Trump Iteration."
Here's the process. First, I create an original art work and title it. Then, I paste the title into the Google search engine and collage a poem from the prose fragments generated by the search.
There is initially a kind of natural heuristic and commonality of material in the first few generated pages. However, as you can imagine, the content of the potential text fields can vary greatly from what is found on page 10 versus what is found on page 100 or page 1000.”
What are some of the challenges you faced in writing Sing Me Into Singing?
Writing music for classical guitar is a very challenging endeavor. The guitar is almost like a matrix, there are so many different ways to play the same pitch and the context of notes in relationship to each other effects the performer's technique even further.
Is there anything specific about Sing Me Into Singing that you'd like your audience to look out for?
The piece gets its title from a Mr. Rogers quote that I found extremely touching - "From the time you were very little, you've had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving." It made me think of my parents and what they sacrificed to raise my sister and myself, and from the moment I heard that quote, I was determined to incorporate it into a musical idea.