PLAYING ON THE EDGE 2 follows up Navona Records’ first Gramophone-lauded album in this series for string quartet. Like the first installment, the award-winning Sirius Quartet plays the entire catalogue to perfection.
The Canary Who Sang by Dayton Kinney is a politically-inspired piece drawing parallels between the historical canaries in coal mines and today’s whistleblowers: a musical testament on how one voice can potentially disrupt a larger society.
Today, Dayton is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to discover more about her hope for voices to be catalysts for change…
When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Music found me. Neither of my parents were musically trained; however, I was always drawn to music from a young age. There are early photos of me reaching for the keys of my grandmother’s piano and I would ask Santa every year for one until he finally delivered a digital keyboard when I was nine. From there I began modest piano lessons that led me to New England Conservatory Preparatory School, where I fell into music composition at age fourteen through excelling at my college-level courses that I began at twelve.
Once I began composing, there was nothing else for me. Composing is my greatest love. For me, it is a way to express myself in a way that words fall short. These expressions range from emotional responses, narrative storytelling, to academic explorations. I am always writing music.
If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?
I plan on making my living as a composer and eventually as a professor. As a composer, I hope to continue my craft through collaborations and commissions, while potentially expanding to commercial work, film, and video games. Currently, I am working towards completing my Ph.D. in Music Composition at Duke University with the ambition to be a future faculty member at an institution of higher education.
If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I hope to keep traveling around the world for inspiration, performances, and musical investigations while discovering different cultures. I have an ongoing list of places that I want to experience as a composer, which brings inspiration to my music. That list includes many countries, such as Thailand, South Korea, Japan, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. I have already been to some of these countries for performances, but I want to spend more time digesting each culture. The amount of time needed will take a lifetime, especially as my list of places keeps growing!
If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?
My primary instrument is piano; however, if I could have instant expertise in any other additional instrument it would have to be the violin. I love writing for strings, especially violin. My compositions often feature sweeping gestures where I make the violin sing and wail. I wish I could play violin.
What does this album mean to you personally?
Personally, being a part of this album means so much to me and classical music. Women composers are often still overlooked today for programming and inclusion. My research focuses on American women composers of the 20th and 21st centuries, where many are not included in the standard repertoire or history books often due to their gender. As a woman composer alongside my talented male composers on the album, it is an important step in my career and in the representation of music by women. We deserve equal programming.
Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?
Every voice matters. Your voice matters. The Canary Who Sang is an allegorical comment on today’s political climate of how a single voice can disrupt, challenge, and change opposing and unrelenting forces of power to create a hopeful future for change. My hope is for the audience to never forget the power of speaking up.