Daniel Visconti, Composer


Dan ViscontiComposer Dan Visconti has at least one thing in common with the legendary rock and country artists the Everly Brothers, other than the fact that they’re all  musicians: It’s Boudleaux Bryant. In 2008 Visconti won the BMI Foundation’s Boudleaux Bryant Commission Award, named for the man who wrote at least a dozen of the Everly Brothers’ biggest hit records, among many other rockabilly hits.

Visconti was selected for the honor from the group of recent winners of the BMI Student Composer Awards by members of the Janaki String Trio, who then premiered his work, Lawless Airs, in New York City. The commission is given in cooperation with the Concert Artists Guild, whose mission is to discover, nurture and promote young musicians.

Though Visconti, who was born in 1982, was still only his his mid-20s, this was far from his first commission. Others have come from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, the Annapolis Symphony, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, the New York Youth Symphony, the Kronos Quartet, Antares, the Jupiter Quartet, the Corigliano Quartet and others. But he’s not as far removed from the Everlys as it may appear, at least in terms of creating music that appeals to youthful audiences.

Besides being a classical violinist and composer, he’s also an active rock and jazz guitarist, both of which influences are reflected in this excerpt from a Plain Dealer review of one of his works: “Visconti’s writing was both mature and youthful, bristling with exhilarating musical ideas and a powerfully crafted lyricism. The performance rocked, and the piece made a strong impact.”

A good example of how Visconti’s music works in both the classical and popular worlds is the fact that his piece Black Bend, which was inspired by stories of the Cuyahoga River, has been performed by orchestras, including the Spokane Symphony, as well as by chamber groups like the Sybarite Chamber Players—at several New York City venues that included the Caffe Vivaldi, the Dive Bar and the Museum of Sex.

Visconti’s approach as an educator also reflects his youthful vision and often involves unconventional venues as well. He has done interactive videoconferencing presentations on the social history of music and civil rights in America, and made educational appearances at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, while his former blog, which proved popular among music students and others, tracked the process of a piece he was writing for the Kronos Quartet.

A Chicago-area native, Visconti studied composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Yale School of Music. He has taught composition, theory and popular songwriting as a faculty member of CIM’s Preparatory Division. He also played blues guitar for CIM’s distance learning program.

Dan Visconti has won other awards, including the BMI Student Composer Award, two consecutive first-place awards in the ASCAP/Victor Herbert Young Composers Competition, the Donald Erb Award for Music Composition, the Aaron Copland Award, the Bearns Prize, the NFMC Devora Nadworney Award for Vocal Writing, and an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2008 he became the youngest winner of the American Academy in Berlin Prize, which includes a year-long residency at Berlin’s Hans Arnhold Center.

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