2017 Composer Commissioning Winner Dallin Gull

My name is Dallin Gull, I am fifteen years old, and a sophomore at Naperville North High School in Naperville, Illinois. Although I was born in Connecticut, my family moved to Naperville when I was two and I lived there until a week ago (January 2017) when my family moved to Park City, Utah, where I am surprised about the number of people whose seemingly only passion is skiing!

As a baby my mom regularly played classical music to me; as a toddler I was drawn to the piano to clink out notes. Then at the age of seven I obediently began taking piano lessons at North Central College under Dara Konatarevic. I was not happy at first when my parents signed me up, but after the first lesson I developed a passion for the instrument that has grown to this day. In fourth grade I played the violin, but left after a particularly bad experience from a middle school teacher that told me during a combined concert, “If you can’t play the right notes, don’t play at all.” At the age of ten I continued my education with Viktoria Piatakova after switching teachers, who recently taught me the technical side of music composition to help me through the tough spots in the songs for this competition. I also played the oboe in band from seventh through freshman year of high school, which is one of the reasons why I included the oboe in my trio.

Ever since grade school I have been creating my own songs. With her shocked discovery of my love for creating music, my piano teacher advised me to take part in this competition. In fact, it is only since preparing for this competition that I have started to write and plan my compositions out, not just keeping them in my head. I joined this competition because I wanted to have more experience with competitions so that I am not as nervous to participate in the future. Participating in this competition is proof to myself that I can compose music, contrary to comments by my older brother who discouraged me from “wasting time” fiddling on the piano rather than practicing my lesson. When I was younger, I participated in a sonatina festival and was one point away from earning a gold medal. That memory still bums me out!

I have found that most of the inspirations for my songs come from nature, while sitting comfortably inside my house. My inspiration for the song starlight happens to come from a star, figures. This star was so bright that the first time I noticed it I turned off the lights and checked if it was an airplane, but it was there the next night so… I made a song about it. For the song fragments, I didn’t necessarily have a physical inspiration but after the first few measures popped into my head I had a clear vision. I saw a soldier returning from war, he was worn mentally from the horrors of war and wearing threadbare camo. He was missing his right leg up to his knee cap and was on wooden crutches. The hesitating sound in the beginning of the song was when he got out of the helicopter. It was spewing dust everywhere, and he started to limp over to his family but slowed to a stop because he didn’t want his family to see how he had changed. The trio, Memories, sprang into existence through the careful nursing of my teacher and myself.

The trio is played by high school friends of mine Nathan Warwick on the oboe and Collin Carter on the clarinet, and myself on the piano. I am considering studying music at the university level and hope that my music will someday become worthy to be in a film score. I would like to thank everyone that enjoyed my music and I hope this will be the shining start of my musical career.