Arts Listings

Berkeley High Senior Premieres New Composition

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:24:00 PM

Berkeley High senior Dylan Mattingly will be featured both as composer and as cello soloist, when the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of music director David Ramadanoff, presents the world premiere of Mattingly’s Rain, Steam and Speed, for orchestra and solo piano (featuring Mattingly’s friend and fellow composer, Preben Antonsen), this weekend at the Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. 

The program also includes three YPSO Concerto Competition Winners playing Bela Bartok’s Concerto for Cello and Orchestra (featuring Mattingly), the first movement of Eduard Lalo’s Symphonie Espanole (featuring YPSO concertmistress Annie Sandholtz) and the Rondo from Carl Mario Von Weber’s Concerto No. 1 for Clarinet (featuring Madison Greenstone). George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture and Paul Hindemuth’s Metamorphoses on Themes of Carl Maria Von Weber, will also be played. 

Mattingly, 17, is a student in the John Adams Young Composers Program at Berkeley’s Crowden Music Center. “I know all his music backwards and forwards,” he said of Adams, and cited “Hail Bop,” the last movement of Adams’ piano concerto Century Rolls as an influence on “how to fabricate a piano concerto from something which naturally required a strong pulse at all times.”  

He said, “A couple things inspired my piece: the trains going by outside my dark window at night, and what it felt like in the fog in San Francisco, on a rainy night, coming out of BART in 2007 to hear Kevin Volans’ Piano Concerto—not so much the music as the memory of that night, what my piece is emotionally based on.” 

The piece is named after the famed 1844 J. M. W. Turner painting of a steam locomotive. 

He described some of the sounds: “The strings playing pizzicato fairly constantly, white noise like a chugging train or rain [elsewhere he mentioned that night at Davies, “with the chugging of Marc-Andre Hamelin’s hands flying through notes like rain, and the sense of some sort of intoning maximalism in the dark”], a huge brass marathon, holding one note for 50 seconds; instruments dropping out, jumping back in; very high, very low.” 

Mattingly said he’s “done a lot of different stuff since, with folk music in different forms recently.” Originally billed as playing with the orchestra on his piece, he said he’s decided “to listen” instead. “It’s interesting to hear what I was thinking about a year ago, which is not what I’m thinking about now. I want to be doing something new in every piece—otherwise, it should’ve been in the last piece. And I’m glad I’ve had the restraint not to try to change it!” 

Mattingly has played cello and composed music for 10 years, playing cello with Superdelegates, an improvisational quartet, guitar with Funky Bus and the U-Turns and is co-director of Formerly Known as Classical, a new music ensemble whose young players perform music written in their lifetimes. His solo piano piece Night #3 was premiered by Sarah Cahill at the Other Minds New Music Seance in December in San Francisco. He currently studies with Yiorgos Vassilandonakis of UC Berkeley, and has studied with Katrina Wreede of Crowden. 

The Young People’s Symphony Orchestra was founded in Berkeley in 1935, the oldest youth orchestra in California and second-oldest in the nation. 




Saturday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 8, 2 p.m., at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church, 10 Moraga Valley Lane, Moraga. $15 general, $12 seniors and students. 849-9776.