Dan Visconti is Inspired by ‘The Pines of Rome’ Atop the Gianicolo

November 14, 2013
Dan Visconti (right) with Rome Prize Fellow Eric Nathan
Dan Visconti with the conductor Osmo Vanska
Dan Visconti
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Dan Visconti is the winner of the Samuel Barber Rome Prize in Musical Composition and a Composer in Arlington, VA.

What part of the United States did you come from?
I came from Arlington, Virginia but making the move to Chicago when I return, in order to focus more time and energy on Fresh Inc Festival, a Chicago training program that helps young musicians develop the entrepreneurship skills needed to succeed as a 21st century musician.
Why did you apply for the Rome Prize?
I thought it would be stimulating to be around a community of individuals that are all creatively driven in different ways than myself. Not ever having been connected to an academic institution, I’m always looking for ways to connect to artists and scholars in other disciplines both for my own enrichment and as potential collaborators.
Describe a particularly inspiring moment or location you've experienced in Rome thus far.
 As a composer I grew up listening to and performing Italian composer Respighi’s orchestral tone poem “The Pines of Rome”, so it’s particularly inspiring to be among the umbrella pines at the top of the Gianicolo; it’s one of experiences that reminds me how much I’m part of an older tradition by being a part of the fellowship program here.
Have you had any "eureka!" moments or unanticipated breakthroughs in the course of your work here?
I’ve been collaborating with fellow Rome Prize composer Eric Nathan on a new improvised score to filmmaker Reynold Reynold’s haunting silent film, The Lost. It was liberating to make the shift to performer and improviser after nearly a decade of writing notated music, and these kind of inter-fellow collaborations are part of what makes the fellowship experience so helpful in nurturing an artist’s development. We’ll be performing the score with Reynold’s film on November 17th on the Nuova Consonanza festival.
What aspect of your project are you most looking forward to?
 I’m very much looking forward to collaborating with the musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic again this coming February. I was fortunate enough to record a disc with them last year, and it’s thrilling for me to work with them again after this milestone and see how they take to the new music I’ve been writing for them.
How do you anticipate your Rome Prize Fellowship will influence future work?
Although it’s difficult to make predictions, I’m working on making some changes in the way I go about composing music during this year that I hope will take effect. As a freelance composer I have lots of commissioned work lined up, and at times this has become nearly overwhelming and it can be difficult to cultivate an attitude of thoughtful playfulness necessary for creation. So far, I’ve been trying to develop a new relation with my work where I focus on a quality experience punctuated by fun and informal get-togethers to make music for recreation at regular fellows jam sessions; it’s just the kind of environment I need to shake up my work habits and make way for a healthy and satisfying way of working that I hope to be able to port back into my hectic life back in the US.
What is your favorite spot at the Academy? or in Rome?
 It’s got to be the Academy bar with its plentiful cookies, caffeine, and friendly staff. My day would not be complete without a morning cup of coffee at the bar or an evening gathering after fellow shop talks.