Davide Verotta was born in a boring Italian town close to Milano and moved to the
much more exciting San Francisco in his late twenties. He studied piano at the
Milano Conservatory and San Francisco Conservatory, and privately with Bob Helps
and maestro Julian White; composition at San Francisco State University (MA) and
the University of California at Davis (Post Doctoral). Although music is currently him
main occupation, Davide’s musical activities were intertwined with a parallel-track
academic life in mathematics as a professor at UCSF. Although this might generate
the familiar reaction (Ah! Musicians and Math!), he admits that the relationship of
music and mathematics still eludes him. He is actively involved in the new music
scene in the San Francisco Bay Area (as soloist, chamber player, board member and
pianist with the SF Composers Chamber Orchestra, board member of NACUSA SF,
co-organizer of the Festival of Contemporary Music in San Francisco, founder of the
composers’ group Irregular Resolutions). He teaches piano and composition
privately and at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. Recent compositions
include works for orchestra with the Berkeley Symphony, chamber opera, dance,
piano, percussion, and a variety of chamber ensembles including Il Ponte an hour
long work for piano, two violins, two marimbas and multi-percussion. His writing
has been defined as alternating lyrical and dreaming landscapes with overwhelming
musical motions; the idiom used in is compositions is a 21st century mix of neo-
tonality, modern techniques, classical structures and experimentation. He is
recipient of multiple ASCAP Plus and Zellerbach foundation awards. For more
information, please visit his web site at www.davideverotta.com.
OPUS DISSONUS - What was your first contact with the art of composing? What motivated you to start?
VEROTTA - I came to composition late, almost by chance. I was expanding my music theory background after I moved from Italy to the USA in my late twenties; I took a tonal counterpoint class that required writing invention and fugues … and I was hooked.
OPUS DISSONUS - How does your compositional process works?
VEROTTA - I spend some time writing down core material: motives and themes, and rhythms, and harmonies or counterpoint, if they have an important function in the piece. Then I play with those materials at the keyboard until I come up with a condensed version of what might be the final piece: nothing written down for this stage, all in the head. And then the work starts. I write down some of the pillars, that is the beginning of the piece, major events, ending. And then I fill in the gaps. Revise a bit, do a final pass to see if materials that have popped up in a section can be used in others. Maybe let it simmers a bit. And done. Every day 8:30 to 12:30 in the morning. I only work at the keyboard, it is too much fun to be there.
OPUS DISSONUS - Who are the composers who have had the greatest influence on your work, from the earliest compositions to the present?
VEROTTA - I think for the earliest compositions I was living off of my pianist adoration for Beethoven, and Debussy and for some vocal pieces Monteverdi; then a number of composers from the 20th century: Messiaen, Britten, Harrison, Ligeti, the Mexican composer Chapela, but especially Stravinski and Bartok. Right now my hero is Shostakovic.
OPUS DISSONUS - In your opinion, what can we expect for the future of classical music?
VEROTTA - I am not sure. If one looks at it as a form of personal expression, as a place for self-exploration and metaphors about reality, then there is nothing wrong with where classical music is now, and it is perfectly fine to stay there. But as an activity that involves a business side it is a bit in a disaster zone. It is very isolated and audiences, especially for new music, are tiny. So more than an expectation is a hope: I hope that in the future classical music will emerge from the isolation it finds itself in, and that composers will be able to build musical structures that talk to people, and automatically reach a bigger audience as a consequence.
OPUS DISSONUS - What are your projects for the future?
VEROTTA - Write more music! I just finished two rather long pieces for two pianos/four hands. That was a very interesting project because one can do really a lot with two pianos! Next is probably more piano, a sonata, an orchestral piece, and then I am going back to strings with violin solo and a string quartet.
OPUS DISSONUS - What words would you say to an aspiring composer?
VEROTTA - Just three words: study the masters.
OPUS DISSONUS- Final words.
VEROTTA - I am very happy doing music.