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Music Alumnus Collaborates with Broadway Legend

By Mason Spirit contributor on October 9, 2009

Vincent Oppido, BA Music ’08, works with Mason maestro Anthony Maiello on a musical composition.

Vincent Oppido, BA Music ’08, who penned his first composition at age 14, is well on his way to joining the ranks of talented composers, such as Mozart and Chopin, who began their musical careers at a young age.

Currently a graduate student in Mason’s School of Music where he is working toward a master’s degree in conducting, Oppido recently collaborated with Tony Award-winning actor and singer Brian Stokes Mitchell.

The pair created an original overture that included a montage of popular songs from the many Broadway shows in which Stokes has appeared, including The Man of La Mancha; Kiss Me, Kate; Ragtime; and King Hedley II.

The piece was performed by the American Festival Pops Orchestra in its debut under the baton of Anthony Maiello, Mason professor of conducting, and led into Stokes’s performance at the fourth annual ARTS by George! benefit event on Saturday, September 26, 2009.

“Being able to work with a fantastic musician such as Stokes was an extremely rewarding and inspiring experience,” says Oppido. “He is very gracious and an example of how one should act in this business.”

Planning for the overture began in early spring 2009 when Oppido traveled to New York to meet with Mitchell and work on the piece. The most difficult part of arranging a piece that includes familiar songs is creating one composition that flows together seamlessly, Oppido says. But within a few short weeks, the pair had created a three-minute arrangement that would, according to Oppido, set the tone for the evening and get the audience motivated.

Vincent Oppido

Vincent Oppido

When composing any piece, Oppido begins his creative process at the piano with pencil and paper in hand. After developing an idea for the piece in his mind, he sets out to create the harmony and melody sections. Only after he has written the entire piece on paper does he use a computer program to create the individual orchestra sections.

Oppido first became interested in conducting in eighth grade when he asked his band director if he could conduct the band during class. Although he didn’t have the courage to do it during class, Oppido later went to his teacher’s office to discuss beat patterns.

It wasn’t until a high school music theory class where he learned about the various computer technology and sequencer programs available that he developed a keen interest in composing. Soon after, he created his first composition that received encouraging responses from his teachers.

Oppido’s music has been performed by the George Mason University Symphony Orchestra, the George Mason University Wind Ensemble, the 4-A Texas All-State Band, and various other state and regional ensembles. One of his most recent compositions, “Skysplitter!,” was performed at the 60th Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic by the Lakota West High School Wind Ensemble from West Chester, Ohio.

Oppido recently returned from an intensive monthlong film-scoring training program at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado. During the program, Oppido composed an original piece for a short movie sequence, which was recorded by the Aspen Orchestra.

“I feel very lucky to be able to work with some of the most talented musicians in this business,” says Oppido. “Every time I create a new composition, I am proud of it for different reasons, and I consider my best piece one I haven’t written yet.”

After completing his master’s degree, Oppido plans to relocate to California and enroll in the University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television Program.

—Catherine Ferraro

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