An Interview with Mark Dal Porto:

Feb 21, 2020 by

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Mark Dal Porto

Michael F. Shaughnessy

1) Professor Dal Porto I understand that several of your composition that were submitted to the American Prize 2019-20 national competition were selected as semi-finalists in the orchestral, choral, and chamber music divisions.  When did you first find out about this and what was your reaction?

The semi-finalists for the American Prize 2019-20 national competition was posted by The American Prize organization via their website, Facebook, and Twitter last month (January 2020). Of course, I was pleased to hear that all five of my entries were selected at this level since the competition is quite competitive and considered to be a prestigious national competition. The five entries that I submitted were Mystic Mountain (orchestra), Spring, the Sweet Spring (choral), From Spring Days to Winter (choral), Romance for Oboe and Piano (chamber), and Exotic Animals Suite for Woodwind Quintet (chamber).

2) To be writing for choral, chamber AND orchestra is extremely impressive- how do you manage to write for each of these ensembles?

One simply needs training and experience to understand and learn how to write well for these different ensembles. A few years of dedicated study while applying the principles and techniques learned can help you learn how to write capably for these groups.

3) In a sense, chamber music is quite different than choral music- what is the emphasis in each?

Chamber music is a piece written for a small group of instrumentalists that could fit into a large room (or “chamber”). Choral music is written for a choir, usually made up of sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses. It is often written with piano accompaniment. For chamber music, the emphasis is on the music itself. For choral music, this emphasis is shared between the music and lyrics with the music enhancing, heightening, and supporting the words.

4) Let’s talk about your work for Woodwind Quintet in the chamber music realm- first what instruments are used- and how prevalent IS chamber music nowadays?

The woodwind quintet I wrote is for a standard woodwind quintet – flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, and bassoon. Chamber music is a very common musical genre and has been around for many centuries. The woodwind quintet I wrote is called Exotic Animals Suite and is in three movement:

  1. Exotic Birds
  2. Exotic Snakes and Lizards
  3. Exotic Cats

5) Romance for Oboe and Piano- was this written for any particular musician? And how complex is the piano piece or part?

It was written for my beloved wife and oboist Tracy and we have performed it together before a live audience over 20 times now. The piano part is involved and orchestral in nature and is intended to provide a large, symphonic-type accompaniment supporting the intense, melodic lines of the oboe to create the highest level of depth and emotion.

6) Where can one find more information about this competition?

You can learn more about this national competition at the American Prize website: or follow the news on Facebook: or Twitter:

7) I understand that you have a recent CD. What is the name and where can it be found?

The name of the CD is Peace, Nature & Renewal. The majority of the pieces I submitted for the American Prize competition can be found on this CD. Further information for Peace, Nature & Renewal can be found here: It is available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, Arkivmusic, and other online media outlets.

What have I neglected to ask?

Perhaps why I compose music. For me, I find it to be an excellent source of self-expression and its purpose for me is to evoke in others, feelings, thoughts, and memories that transports them to their own unique and special place.

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