I wrote this short, rhapsodic work for my friends violinist Roger Zahab and pianist Rob Frankenberry in 2010. The two principal motives are established quickly – the first characterized by a descending minor second followed by a descending and re-ascending major seventh, the second a flurry of almost-parallel triads – and are developed and passed back and forth throughout the remainder of the piece. As the triads are deconstructed and become a frantic, galloping ostinato, the violin brings the piece to a frenetic climax, before settling into a lush and calm denouement.
This piece was later incorporated into Only Air, my 20-minute work memorializing LGBT youth who have committed suicide due to bullying, where it specifically memorializes Tyler Clementi. Only Air is available for high voice and orchestra or high voice and chamber ensemble.
Dennis Tobenski (ASCAP)
Dennis Tobenski is a composer of acoustic new music, a vocalist, and a strong advocate for new music and for the interests of living composers.
Dennis’s Only Air, a 20-minute work for high voice and orchestra memorializing the gay teenagers who have taken their own lives in recent years, was commissioned by the Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra, and has been performed in a chamber version by The Secret Opera in New York and members of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony.
In February 2016, he and pianist Marc Peloquin released their first album together, a disc of art songs by living American composers titled And He’ll Be Mine.
Dennis also hosts the Music Publishing Podcast and The Composer’s Guide to Doing Business: two music business-centered podcasts aimed at helping composers and performers to learn more about the practical aspects of their careers.
Dennis received his B.Mus. in Vocal Performance and Music Theory & Composition from Illinois State University, and his M.A. in Music Composition from The City College of New York.
His principal teachers have included David Del Tredici, Daron Hagen, and Chester Biscardi. He is a member of the Board of Advisors for Composers Now, and the Board of Directors of the KeyedUp MusicProject. Dennis lives in New York City with his husband Darien Scott Shulman and their cat Pistachio.
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