Now Hear This: an Interview with Quinn Mason, composer

Audiences at the first concert of the 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival will hear the World Premiere of Quinn Mason’s String Quartet No. 5. Mr. Mason is quite an accomplished composer, regardless of his young age. He grew up in Dallas and graduated from North Dallas High School. He first became acquainted with Fine Arts Chamber Players through an in-school demonstration by one of our troupes, and eventually was part of our scholarship program for private lessons.

Enjoy this interview with Mr. Mason to learn more about his process for composing, his history (including his first time in the audience at the DSO with rock star Sting on stage), and his interests.


Why was the String Quartet No. 5 selected for this concert?  This one is a representation of my current style. I’d say it marks the emergence of the compositional voice that I experiment with today. The fourth movement of this quartet has been performed before, but this is the first time the entire piece has been performed in public – it’s a World Premiere.

 

How old were you when you started playing an instrument? When you started composing?  When I was 10 I started piano classes at my elementary school. That led to an interest in exploring music more. I took private lessons and had extra practice on the keyboard after school. That led to improvising, exploring, and creating music.

After piano, I started the cello about 2 years later; and I did the recorder at school. Cello was my first experience playing with an ensemble through orchestra, the New Conservatory of Dallas. In high school, North Dallas High School, I joined band for the first time in the percussion section.

I was 10, actually, when I started composing. I even drew my own staff paper for my earliest pieces!

 

Can you walk us through your process of how you compose a piece?  Sometimes the idea comes first, sometimes the rhythm comes first. I’ll take all the ideas and put them in a little black notebook I keep. Eventually, I’ll put all the notes together and order them. Then one idea – a theme – will come to the forefront and I might voice that with a particular instrument, then fill out the other sections … essentially, it’s taking ideas and shaping them into a larger picture.

 

When did you decide to pursue a career as a composer?  In high school. It was my band director Mr. Warmanen who encouraged my composition by letting me composer for the band and letting me compose my own pieces for the band. And this was after I’d taken some time off from music in middle school.

 

What type of music did you listen to as a kid, and what do you listen to now?  My mom brought me up on ’80s and ’90s music, mostly R&B and hip-hop. So, classical music was something I had to seek out on my own through the radio. I still listen to classical music, but I’ve recently gotten into salsa music and Latin music, in general.

 

Growing up in Dallas, what were some arts organizations you interacted with?  FACP – I was a scholarship student and received free cello lessons in elementary and middle school. Once I left the cello, FACP was able to facilitate composition lessons for me.

I grew up in the audience at the DSO. First performance was seeing Sting in Peter & the Wolf at the DSO. I still remember that! That was a school trip.

 

Who’s your favorite composer to listen to?  Igor Stravinsky is my favorite of all time. It used to be Tchaikovsky, but once I heard “Rite of Spring, I thought – this is my man. The reason why I like Stravinsky so much is because he experimented with different styles, but he always sounds like himself at the same time. That’s unique and inspiring.

 

What advice would you give 14-year-old Quinn?  You’re not going to be an actor, stop writing screenplays. Practice more piano, listen to a lot more contemporary music because it’ll really open your mind. And, just be yourself – don’t try to be someone else.

 

What advice would you give a high schooler who wants to pursue music in college?   Make lots of friends and be very social because music is a universal experience and very collaborative. Be nice to everyone and don’t burn your bridges – those connections can really help you in college and in your career.

 

What’s your favorite sound (musical or non-musical), and your least favorite sound (musical or non-musical)? Favorite sound – I’d have to say the sound of an orchestra tuning up. It’s very refreshing to hear lots of open strings and warming up. Least favorite sound – when people clap after the third movement of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6.

 

When you leave this world and reach the pearly gates, what celestial concert do you hope to hear?  I want to hear Stravinsky conduct his own “Rite of Spring.” That’s what I really want to hear.

 


New partnership struck with Texas Capital Bank

Funding supports first concert of free summer series; program includes World Premiere by up-and-coming local composer Quinn Mason

We are pleased to announce Texas Capital Bank as the Title Sponsor of the first concert of FACP’s 38th annual Basically Beethoven Festival. The performance is Sunday, July 1, at 2:30 p.m. in Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District.

“Texas Capital Bank is proud to support the Basically Beethoven Festival,” says Effie Dennison, Senior Vice President, Director of Community Development and Corporate Social Responsibility. “We see the power of music to enrich our community and provide wonderful opportunities for children, and we are happy we can take part in such a unique and special event.”

FACP’s Interim Executive Director Emily Guthrie adds, “Texas Capital Bank has shown tremendous leadership in the Dallas community, particularly in their efforts to reach underserved communities. We admire their outreach and feel a kinship between that and our work to break down barriers that prevent North Texans from experiencing and enjoying classical music. With support like this from Texas Capital Bank, we can continue to produce concerts of the highest caliber that are free for all to attend.”

For the 2018 Festival, FACP will produce FIVE FREE CONCERTS. Every program starts with a Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm followed by a Feature Performance at 3 pm. Rising Star Recitals present local, gifted young musicians; Feature Performances showcase professional musicians from the area.

The July 1 Rising Star Recital features student musician Josephine Chiu, piano, joined on stage by the professional musicians of the afternoon’s Feature Performance and Scott Sheffler, bass. They will perform a chamber arrangement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.

The Feature Performance musicians, Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello; come together for the World Premiere of Quinn Mason’s String Quartet No. 5. A Dallas ISD alumnus and former FACP scholarship student, he was a recipient of the Rogene Russell Scholarship Fund (named after FACP’s co-founder) in its inaugural year. He has won numerous awards for his compositions, including the Texas A&M University 2017 Chamber Music Symposium composition contest, the Voices of Change 2016 Texas Young Composers project, and the American Composers Forum 2015 NextNotes High School Competition. Among his recent notable commissions is a horn sonata for David Cooper (principal horn for the Berlin Philharmonic; former principal horn for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra), his Symphony No. 3 for the Dallas-based New Texas Symphony Orchestra, and a full-length orchestral work for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to be premiered in 2019.

The ensemble will also perform selected movements from Antonín Dvorak’s String Quartet No. 12, Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major, Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet, op. 76 no. 3, “Emperor,” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 9.

 

OVERVIEW: 2018 Basically Beethoven Festival

  • All concerts are FREE. Families with children are welcome.
  • Sundays in July: July 1, 8, 15, 22, & 29.
  • Rising Star Recital at 2:30 pm, presenting local, gifted young musicians.
  • Feature Performance at 3 pm, showcasing professional area musicians.
  • Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall): 2520 Flora Street, Dallas 75201. Doors open at 2 pm.

 

2018 Basically Beethoven Festival: July 1, “Eclectet” Presented by Texas Capital Bank

  • Rising Star Recital: Josephine Chiu, piano, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5.
  • Feature Performance: Florence Wang, violin; Sean Riley, violin; Rachel McDonald, viola; Joseph Kuipers, cello.
  • World Premiere: String Quartet No. 5 by Quinn Mason.
  • Program also includes works by Dvorak, Ravel, Haydn, and Beethoven.

The Basically Beethoven Festival is made possible in part by Texas Capital Bank, WFAA Channel 8, DART, Texas Commission on the Arts, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, TACA, VisitDallas, and ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program. Since 1981, FACP has presented free classical music programs open to the public. In addition to the Basically Beethoven Festival, FACP presents free, monthly Bancroft Family Concerts October through May at the Dallas Museum of Art.  Since its inception, FACP has served over 225,000 children and performed for over a half-million residents of North Texas.

About Texas Capital Bank Texas Capital Bank, N.A. is a commercial bank that delivers highly personalized financial services to businesses and entrepreneurs. We are headquartered in Texas working with clients throughout the state and across the country. Texas Capital Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc. (NASDAQ®: TCBI) and is recognized as a Forbes Best Banks in America and the Dallas Morning News’ Top 100 Places To Work company. For more information, visit www.texascapitalbank.com. Member FDIC.