Skip header content and main navigation Binghamton University, State University of New York - Harpur

Danny Romberger

Music graduate student hits all the right notes

By Audrey Russo

It’s not unusual to hear the sounds of pianos, flutes and trumpets ringing through the practice rooms of the Fine Arts Building’s basement. If you hear an eerie electronic hum, however, don’t panic: It’s Danny Romberger, practicing his theremin.

The theremin is one of three instruments Romberger, 23, learned to play proficiently during his time as a Harpur College undergraduate. The instrument, which Romberger received as a high school graduation gift, is played by moving one’s hands through electric signals created by the device’s antennae. Now a music composition master’s student in Harpur College, the Valley View, Pa., native composes music for all kinds of instruments, including the electronic theremin. Last spring, he wrote “The Red Wheelbarrow,” (based on a William Carlos Williams poem) which was performed on campus by Grammy-winning singer Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek. The piece was not without Romberger’s unique touch.

“Professor (Daniel Thomas) Davis said ‘You should write a piece for Jackie, marimba and yourself on theremin,’ so it was more or less a challenge,” Romberger said. “I thought ‘OK, I’ll do it!’”

The Momenta Quartet, a critically acclaimed string ensemble, played Romberger’s most recent piece, “Lavender Shades,” at Binghamton University’s Casadesus Recital Hall. Romberger lists Romantic-era composers, progressive instrumental rock and video game soundtracks as his main musical influences. While his music ranges from dramatic to light-hearted, Romberger says he tries to make his music fun to play.

“Most of the time I have individual players in mind, so I try to write stuff that they’ll enjoy playing, tailored to their skills,” Romberger said.

As an undergraduate, Romberger triple-majored in music, actuarial science and economics. While his original goal was to become an actuary, Romberger’s interest in music as a career was piqued while taking his first music theory class.

“It was taking something that’s creative and largely based on emotions and you’re able to find out what’s really going on behind the notes on the page,” Romberger said.

Throughout his undergraduate career, Romberger gained more experience performing, both as a trombone player and a baritone-bass vocalist. He performed in Harpur Chorale, University Chorus, Binghamton Wind Symphony, and in Explorchestra, a Student Association-charted campus organization that performs student-composed music. Romberger said Explorchestra was essential in improving his composition techniques, as he wrote more than 30 pieces for the group between his sophomore and senior years.

“I was seeing what other students were doing and writing and it inspired me to go out and do the same thing and try to apply myself to the task of composition,” Romberger said.

As he neared graduation, Romberger decided to apply to Harpur College’s music composition master’s program. Of all three of his majors, Romberger said he felt the most passionate about music.

“I had found out through Binghamton that music was an area that I like to study,” Romberger said. “It’s a good combination of both the analytical and creative parts of the mind.”

Romberger works under the direction of Davis, an assistant professor of music composition at Harpur College. Davis works with Romberger in seminars, workshops and weekly composition lessons.

“Danny possesses that rare combination of gifts, a genuine creative spirit and the ability to realize his musical vision accurately and clearly.” Davis said. “When you spend just a little time with Danny, it’s obvious that creating music isn’t just something you do for class, it’s a way of being in and interacting with the world."

Although he came back to Binghamton to earn his master’s degree, Romberger said the experience of returning as a graduate student allows him to see the campus from a different perspective.

“It’s nice to be able to see what people are doing and what Binghamton is going through from an observer’s standpoint,” Romberger said. “At the same time, there are a lot of new experiences that still bring new stuff to the table when coming here.”

Whether he’s composing or performing, Romberger is thankful to have found a family in the Harpur Music Department.

“I can see people having these close relationships with each other and it’s not antagonistically competitive,” Romberger said. “It’s a very fun, collaborative and cooperative atmosphere that the students at Harpur College have with one another.”

Connect with Binghamton:
Twitter icon links to Binghamton University's Twitter page YouTube icon links to Binghamton University's YouTube page Facebook icon links to Binghamton University's Facebook page Instagram

Last Updated: 3/1/17