An Interview with Mark Dal Porto: Triple Accomplishment

Nov 20, 2020 by

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Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Professor Dal Porto, first of all, what are you currently doing in this pandemic? How are you coping and providing instruction to your students?

Thank you for having me. I am doing my best to cope by not focusing on the pandemic and recognize that what is happening is mostly beyond my control, with the exception of my wearing a mask and social distancing when out in public. Regarding my teaching, it is exclusively online at this time and I am continuing to hone my skills on how to best teach in this environment so that my students are still able to effectively learn and be motivated and to continue with their education and pursuit of their life goals.

2) Secondly, I hear that you have just won 3 awards from the American Prize Association in composition-choral, chamber, and orchestra. When did you find out and how did you feel?

I found out in June 2020 that I had won three awards, those being for my orchestral work Mystic Mountain, choral work From Spring Days to Winter, and chamber work Exotic Animals Suite. I certainly felt honored and was very pleased to receive these awards since it is an extremely competitive competition. All of the aforementioned works are included on my CD Peace, Nature & Renewal released last year and sold at various retail outlets.

3) Now, the American Prize Association- where are they located and how often do they award these prizes?

The American Prize Association is located in White Plains, NY and they are a national nonprofit organization in the Performing Arts. They award prizes annually in music and theater.

4) How did you go about winning these prizes? Did you have to submit sheet music, or public performance or recordings of these compositions?

I submitted five scores plus recordings for The American Prize 2019-2020 competition. All five works were selected as semi-finalists with three winning finalist award certificates.

5) Now choral is basically for voice- am I correct? But chamber music is written for what instruments?

Yes, choral means an ensemble of voices, typically sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses (“SATB”) being the most common choral group. Chamber music is composed for a small group of instruments—traditionally a group that could fit in a palace “chamber” or large room.

6) Big question- writing for an entire orchestra. What does that involve?

Composing for an entire orchestra entails a large amount of work, but I thoroughly enjoy the process. Because you are writing for a sizable group of musicians, it takes a good deal of time and forethought to not only write the music, but strategically and colorfully orchestrate it, making sure it balances, blends, and effectively highlights every emotion and nuance of your melodies, rhythms, and harmonies.

7) Last question, how are you coping musically during this pandemic? I am feeling a bit depressed. Does your emotional state with this pandemic impact your composing?

Yes, my compositional output has been somewhat limited in the sense that live performances, competitions, and concerts have been put on hold which has disrupted my creativity and motivation. On the other hand, I have now been able to find more private time and inspiration in completing the largest work I have yet written, a symphony for full orchestra. It is now getting close to being completed and, when finished, should be close to an hour in duration.

8) Anything I have forgotten to ask?

Perhaps why I compose music. I find it to be an excellent source of self-expression and its purpose for me is to communicate feelings, thoughts, and memories that engage my listeners and transport them to their own unique and special place.

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