David Dean Mendoza
David Dean Mendoza (b. 1979) is a composer known for his elegant works for strings and non-Western sonic explorations. As an educator he is dedicated to the creation of a diverse curriculum. In 2020, he created the teaching resource website diversemusictheoryexamples.com, a website which includes music theory examples from women composers, LGBTQ composers, composers of color, and composers of non-Western European origin.
Mendoza has been a composer in residence at the Musical Production and Research Laboratory (LIPM) in Buenos Aires, and at the distinguished Banff Centre. Some of the ensembles that have performed his works are the:
Altura Ensemble, Arizona State University’s Contemporary Percussion Ensemble, Central Michigan University’s New Music Ensemble, the Cleveland Chamber Players, Ball State University’s Electronic Music Ensemble, The Pneuma Ensemble, The University of Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, and the South Carolina String Project.
Mendoza holds a DMA in Music Theory and Composition from the University of Miami, a MM in Music Composition from Florida International University, and a BM in Music Composition from Florida State University. In addition to teaching at Frost School of Music, he has taught at Florida International University and New World School of the Arts.
As a composer performer, I am able to get a hands-on experience with the sounds I am trying to create. Bowed stringed instruments are my favorite instruments to explore, not only because they are beautiful, but also because of my connection to them as a child. Since string timbres resonate the most with me, most of my works incorporate string instruments.
When I write, the music mostly comes from working with the instrument first before writing it down on paper. My process takes me from paper, to computer, to performing, to recording, to listening, and back again several times before a piece is completed. In this way, I am able to live with a piece for several months before giving birth to it.
My works juxtapose the traditional with the contemporary, the ancient with the avant-garde, and the accessible with the abstract. Sound sources often include silences, electronic sounds, non-western instruments, non-traditional instruments, and improvisation to produce something that has been described as ethereal and evocative. My influences vary from early music, to non-western music, and to the latest innovations in interactive electronics and video. My mission is to explore the instruments of the world and write for them in new ways. Philosophies and schools of thought are important, but a composer should not get bogged down with labels, or the politics associated with them. Learn from the past, and take what you want from it, but realize that you are free to explore and create new sound worlds.
To me, writing music is both an emotional and intellectual outlet. My music may come from a superficial place, or it can come from deep inside me depending on what outcomes I desire. Many times, I just try to explore and see what comes out. Sometimes I write for others, but mostly I write and play for myself. Whatever my motivation, I believe a work must achieve a balance between contrasting and cohesive ideas to be successful and must take the listener on a journey.