Orchestra Underground: Sins & Songs Composer Spotlight – Daniel Schnyder

Swiss American composer/performer Daniel Schnyder is as comfortable and gifted with classical chamber music as with avant-garde jazz, and has composed and performed in both fields all over the world. He wrote DraKOOL after seeing a cartoon movie with his children about a monster party at Count Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania. The piece will have its American premiere at ACO’s Orchestra Underground: Sins & Songs, Friday, February 27 at Carnegie Hall.

Composer/performer Daniel Schnyder

American Composers Orchestra: You wrote DraKOOL after seeing a cartoon Dracula movie about a monster party with your children. What about this experience and subject matter prompted you write this piece?
Daniel Schnyder: I was invited to Romania to perform in Sighisoara, the birth place of Count Vlad Drakul. When I saw the funny children’s movie about Dracula I decided to write a piece relating to the story of Count Drakul, combining fiction and history. My piece does not have an underlying narrative. It is a composition of impressions, or “pictures of an exhibition” about Dracula and our perceptions of him.

ACO: What should the audience listen for during your piece?
DS: It is all explained in the subtitles:
Monster Party (which relates more to the movie) 
– Drakul invites all the monsters to his castle.
Vlad Plays the Organ
– Here Drakul plays a sad song on his old pip organ. Some of the pipes are not working properly and some are detuned. It is a song of a man who cannot die.
Trapped Inside the Spider Net
– Here you can hear the fly that gets trapped inside the spider net and cannot escape. This relates to the spider nets inside the organ and all over Drakul’s castle.
Pastorale with a Vampyre
– This is a idyllic picture of a beautiful woman that turns suddenly into a Vampyre.
Mehmed Ante Portas (Mehmed is at the door)
– Mehmed, the Osman, was the big enemy of Drakul. Drakul defeated him and became a hero in Romania. This is now real and not fiction. “Mehmed is at the door” is the translation from the original Latin saying. It was used for the first time by the Romans when the great African leader Hannibale attacked Rome.
ACO: What are you looking forward to about the performance of DraKOOL at Carnegie Hall by the American Composers Orchestra?
DS: I very much hope that the audience will enjoy the music. It is music for all ages and all people. I wanted to write a piece I could share with my kids and all concert audiences. It is extremely challenging for the orchestral players since they have to navigate between American pop culture, Jazz, Turkish music, and modern classical music.
The music is fun to play and fun to listen to, but on another level it is very emotional and sad: it is the tale of a lost soul, the story of a man who cannot die.

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