Daniel Pesca, composer

Daniel Pesca headshot


Daniel Pesca is a composer, pianist, and improvisor whose interpretations stand out for their creativity and dynamism. A champion of contemporary music, Daniel is a member of several ensembles noted for their innovative approach to the development of new work, including the Grossman Ensemble and the Zohn Collective. Daniel has performed the premieres of over one hundred pieces, many composed for him. He has performed as concerto soloist with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Oberlin Sinfonietta, Aspen New Music Ensemble, Orchestra of the League of Composers, and Slee Sinfonietta.

He is on recordings from Urtext Classics, Centaur, Albany, New Focus, CCCC, Nimbus, Furious Artisans, and Oberlin Records. His solo album Promontory, released fall 2021, includes world premieres of works by Augusta Read Thomas, Alison Yun-Fei Jiang, and Aaron Travers, plus compositions by Daniel.

Projects slated for 2022 include residencies with the Zohn Collective at Vanderbilt University, Notre Dame University, and the Beijing Modern Music Festival, recitals at University of California San Diego and Northern Illinois University, large-scale new works for the Grossman Ensemble and Constellations Chamber Concerts (Washington, DC), and a performance of Messiaen’s epic Des Canyons aux etoiles with the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh.

Since August 2019, Daniel is Assistant Professor of Music at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Previously, he was artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago, and also held teaching positions at Ithaca College, Syracuse University, and Northeastern Illinois University. Daniel holds a doctorate from the Eastman School of Music.

Daniel Pesca's New Examples of Confusion premiered March 4, 2022 with the Grossman Ensemble.

Program notes:

New Examples of Confusion borrows its title from a sequence of very short stories by Lydia Davis called “Examples of Confusion.” Davis’s stories are remarkable for their concision: every sentence is integral to the whole, and every word is precisely chosen and placed. Her observations about the world are frequently quizzical, often ironic, and unexpectedly poignant. I emulate these qualities in this piece. The work is in five sections, each of which is tightly framed and strongly characterized. Different contingents of the ensemble dominate the texture in each section: for instance, the alternately nervous and playful wind solos of the first section give way to the weighty, lugubrious string chords of the second section. The five sections follow each other without break, joining together to form a single continuous arc. The high point of this arc is the swirling, fragmented fourth section. The broad, lyrical last section is like an epilogue. I am honored to be the first member of the Grossman Ensemble to write for the group. My years playing alongside the musicians of the ensemble informed every stage of my writing process. I designed the structure to spotlight individual musicians, and I imagined each individual’s way of playing and personality as I shaped their part. The way these parts come together and converse is a reflection of our working process as an ensemble, and the work is thus a celebration of friendship and collaborative art-making.

Daniel Pesca's "New Examples of Confusion"