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Italian composer seeks new challenge

Two years ago, Filippo Santoro didn’t speak any English. This semester at Binghamton, he has composed a choral piece with English lyrics inspired by the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.

Santoro, 36, grew up in Rome, Italy, where he trained as a pianist at a conservatory
before studying composition and musicology at the graduate level.

“Being a professional performer means to be a computer, not to make errors, to be very precise,” he said of the stresses that led to his career change in 2003. “My life changed completely when I decided to be a composer. It’s beautiful when you find you have a talent. Everything seems feasible.”

A friend’s experiences in the United States inspired Santoro’s decision to study at an American university. He began taking English lessons in 2006 and now hopes to earn a master’s degree in composition at Binghamton before pursuing a doctorate elsewhere in the U.S.

“This place represents a gate for me,” he said of Binghamton.

Santoro is working to find his personal voice as a composer and to deepen his English-language skills so that he’ll be able to express himself with more nuance and complexity. He’s also learning more about how Americans teach music while serving as a teaching assistant for Paul Goldstaub, associate professor of music.

Santoro hates sports almost as much as he loves cooking. He enjoys reading, especially philosophy and novels, and often listens to pop music — but only when he’s driving.

Goldstaub said he has enjoyed introducing Stantoro to new music and new styles of musical analysis.

“He brings extensive experience in composing new, interesting and adventurous  music,” Goldstaub said. “He enriches our program with his unique perspective on music and performance.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08