Ballando con la Vita: Dancing with Life


One of my passions in life has always been music. I love the universality of it, the way that two people who have never met and do not speak the same language can hear the same work and be touched in similar ways. Music is a major part of my life and something that runs in my family; I’ve played the trombone for fun for many years; then, when my son Enzo turned three, he began playing the violin. He is now a member of the Northern Virginia Suzuki Music School, and studies now with Chris Sanchez and worked with Monty Bloom for six years while we resided in Florida. Now, at just 10 years old, he can already play the instrument beautifully.

A few years ago in 2013, I decided to actualize the joy he and I both feel playing our instruments by commissioning the renowned Dr. Katia Tiutiunnik to compose a piece for the trombone and the violin that Enzo and I could play together. Thus, Ballando con la Vita, or Dancing with Life, was born.

When I commissioned the piece, I wanted it to be emblematic of the emotional and spiritual journey upon which I embarked during the first few years of my son’s life. Having a son completely revolutionized my world, and it was something I felt I couldn’t adequately portray only with words, but also with music.

Ballando con la Vita is broken down into three movements, with each titled symbolically in a way that can be interpreted to have multiple meanings.

The first movement is titled “La Chiamata all’Alba” which translates from Italian as “The Call of the Dawn.” Tiutiunnik pulled influence from the music of ancient Rome ceremonies performed each day in synchrony with the rising sun. It represents Enzo’s birth, the dawn of his life, when he first saw the light of day.

The second movement, “Preghiera all’Amore” is Italian for “Prayer to Love” and calls upon Tiutiunnik’s own composition for the viola, Prayer. The continuously flowing melody is played on the trombone and sharply accented by chords on the violin.

The final movement, “Marcia delle Fiabe,” relies heavily on Tiutiunnik’s ambiguous title interpretations; literally, it translates to mean “March of the Fairytales,” a popular children’s event in Italy where people would dress up as fairytale characters and march along the streets. However, my wife, and Enzo’s mother, is named Marcia, introducing another meaning: Marcia of the Fairytales, or the real life fairytale of the birth of Enzo and the joy that it brought to his mother.

Dr. Katia Tiutiunnik is an Australian composer whose works have been published in Australia, Italy, and the United States. Her works are held in numerous international libraries including the Harvard College Library, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, the Wiener Music Library at Columbia University, and the National Library of Australia. Her doctoral dissertation was revised and published as a book that went on to receive a thorough, scholarly review in Musicology Australia.