Composer Dominick Argento may not be a native Minnesotan - he was born in Pennsylvania to Sicilian immigrants and got his musical education on the east coast - but his ties to the classical music life of the Twin Cities go deep. Indeed, Dominick Argento so enthusiastically adopted Minnesota as his creative home (and it embraced him just as enthusiastically in return) that he has played a significant role in helping to raise the profile of the Twin Cities as a major international artistic player.
This week Dominick Argento turns 90, and Classical MPR celebrates his life with a special spotlight on his contributions to contemporary classical music. Wednesday night at 10, I'll devote the full two hours of Extra Eclectic to Argento's music (plus a couple of hat-tips to the music of some of his significant musical mentors along the way).
Argento's music is firmly situated in the 20th century, with all of its possibility for adventurous tonality. But it's just as firmly anchored in a strong commitment to lyricism and accessible harmony - and Argento's natural optimism and affinity for beauty means that his works have long connected with listeners.
"I don't feel angst," Argento says. "I don't know what it is. I read about it. And I hear lots of pieces that attempt to describe it. But it's not my thing. My thing happens to be life affirmation. And I like to write pieces of music that reflect that."
Argento's realm is primarily the human voice; his operas, choral works, and solo vocal "monodramas" are among some of the highest regarded in 20th century classical. Extra Eclectic will feature a healthy sampling, along with a few select instrumental works too.
We are honored to call Dominick Argento a member of the Minnesota Music community, and thank him for his immeasurable contributions to classical music. And we wish him the happiest of birthdays as he reaches this marvelous milestone.