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Garcia-Dominguez discusses music at MIT

MIT Emerson Fellow Dario Garcia-Dominguez ’15 performs recital

Emerson Fellow Recital

Dario Garcia-Dominguez ’15

Killian Hall

April 2, 5 p.m.

The Emerson Scholars and Emerson Fellows program helps recognize the many talented musicians at MIT. The Tech had the opportunity to talk to Dario Garcia-Dominguez ’15 about what it’s like to be an Emerson Fellow, his Advanced Music Performance Student Recital this Wednesday at Killian Hall at 5 p.m., and music at the MIT. Garcia-Dominguez plays the piano and will be performing the following at his recital: Beethoven, Bagatelles, Op. 33, Sonata in E Major, Op. 109; Chopin, Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38; Prokofiev, Sonata No. 3 in a minor, Op. 28; and Liebermann, Gargoyles, Op. 29.

The Tech: So, are you an Emerson Scholar, and what does that mean?

Dario Garcia-Dominguez: I’m actually an Emerson Fellow. While Scholars have a scholarship for one semester for private lessons, Fellows have a scholarship for a full year and take 21M.480 [Advanced Music Performance], which meets every Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s a class in which the student musicians play for one another and give each other feedback. It’s a great way to get performance experience and insightful feedback from other advanced musicians. In addition, as an Emerson Fellow you are required to perform a full solo recital at end of the year.

TT: How long is your recital?

DGD: I’ll be playing 50 minutes of music. It’s a very strict cutoff. I was worried that my program was clocking in at 58 minutes a week ago, and I had to cut it down. Now it’s between 49 and 52 minutes.

TT: So what did you have to do to cut down your in recital?

DGD: I took out a couple movements from the contemporary piece [Gargoyles]. Unfortunately, the fourth movement is not up to performance standards and it was a clear choice. I also took out the second movement because it’s not as interesting to me.

TT: How many pieces are you playing?

DGD: I’m playing a total of five pieces. I’m starting the program with a couple of short Bagatelles by Beethoven. They are from his early life, and they’re very classical and almost childlike. I wanted to start off the program with something easy to chew on for the audience. Next I’ll be delving into his 30th piano sonata, which is Opus 109, one of his later works. He’s definitely more depressed and frustrated with life at this point. It’s very emotional and romantically driven, as opposed to his earlier works, and that’s what I really love about it. The last movements is one of the most intense and substantial movements I’ve ever heard, or ever played, rather. I spent a lot of time figuring out what I wanted to get from this piece. After that, I’ll be playing Chopin’s Second Ballade. It starts off with a genteel waltz-like intro that puts the audience at ease. But it suddenly dives into this thunderous, virtuosic storm that’s a lot of fun to play. Following that Chopin, I’ll be playing Gargoyles [by Lowell Liebermann], which is the most contemporary piece in my program. I’m only playing two of the movements as I mentioned earlier, the first [Presto] and the third [Allegro Moderato]. Gargoyles is a good name for the piece because each of its four movements has its own wildly different character. I imagine heads poking out of corners and gruesome faces. It’s very polytonic and there’s a ton of chromatics, things that put the listener at the edge of their seats. The first movement is very spontaneous and fun with a lot of changes in dynamic. The third movement, my favorite, is completely different. It has quiet arpeggios in the center of the keyboard, with an uplifting melody on top of it. It’s very pretty, but kind of off-putting and strange, tonally. Following the Gargoyles, I’ll be playing Prokofiev’s Third Piano Sonata. It’s a riot. My friends tell me I have a knack for these spontaneous pieces like the Prokofiev and the Liebermann, so I’m glad I’m finishing off my program with them.

TT: How many years have you been playing piano?

DGD: Fourteen years. I started when I was six. I would say that the first six years or so of piano lessons, I was forced to play by my parents, like a lot of kids were. Then I just kind of found out that I really enjoyed it. I was fairly talented, so I went on my own after that.

TT: MIT isn’t a place that many people commonly think of as musical. Did that affect your decision to come here, or did you ever want to attend a conservatory?

DGD: I knew that I wanted to do both science and music. I was looking at a ton of colleges with dual degree programs. Considering that I didn’t really see music as a career, I put science first. When I got into MIT, I thought, “Well, this is an opportunity I can’t pass up.” I looked into the music program, and I now think MIT is very underappreciated in terms of music. As a high schooler, I was surprised to find that one of the most acclaimed performance pianists [David Deveau] teaches here, and when I arrived I amazed to find that I could have the opportunity of taking private lessons with him. In addition, the music department has many interesting class options, a plethora of knowledgeable individuals and great, fun teachers. I’ve enjoyed all the music classes I’ve taken here.

TT: Do you have any favorite music classes at MIT?

DGD: This is kind of out of the ordinary, but I really liked taking Intro to World Music [21M.030] with Patricia Tang. We got to experience the ethnic music we were learning about first hand, which is something not a lot of music classes get to do. With many of the introductory level classical music classes students don’t ever learn the instruments being played in class, but this is something World Music achieved nicely — we got to learn and play the Sabar drum and the Balinese gamelan!