Dave Mastrangelo: The Man Behind the Instrument
Updated: Jan 26
One of my joys as a creative is to experience community with other like-minded creatives. That is where I gain inspiration. Accomplished musician David Mastrangelo is an inspiring and passionate artist whose music will bring you to a place of transcendence and contemplation all at the same time. It was an honor to talk with him about Beethoven and to learn more about what inspires Dave to create.
David Mastrangelo began playing the violin at the age of 8 and began studying privately at 12 in Syracuse, N.Y., his hometown. He attended Southern Methodist University on a full music scholarship and graduated with honors in1990. While there, Dave studied with Emanuel Borok and was the concertmaster of the orchestra under Ansel Brusilow. He then attended Mannes College of Music in New York, where he studied with Sally Thomas. From 1992 to 1994, he played in the New World Symphony, where he was co-concertmaster under the batons of Eduardo Mata, Hugh Wolff, Lawrence Foster, Barry Tuckwell, and Michael Tilson Thomas, among others.
In 1994, he became the Assistant Principal violin with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and, in 2000, won the position of Principal Second violin. Since that time, he has appeared as a soloist with the orchestra and has performed in numerous chamber music concerts. Mastrangelo taught the high school string program at First Baptist Academy for eight years and has been a regular chamber music coach for the Philharmonic Youth Orchestra since 2015. He dedicates all recognition for his musical accomplishments to the glory of God.
What is your favorite Beethoven musical work?
My favorite work of Beethoven is the Fifth Symphony. The first movement challenges our ideas of what constitutes a melody (four-note motive), showing his mastery of counterpoint and his willingness to break with traditions (oboe cadenza). The second movement has all the lyrical beauty you could ever expect from any composer (yes, he could write a melody, even if he chose not to write a traditional one in the first movement). The third movement seems like a typical scherzo and trio until the ending, with the harmonic suspension that segues into the fourth movement- a heroic climax to the entire work...except it is not. He reintroduces the melancholic theme from the third movement before the end. It challenges everything that had been called a symphony up to that point in time.
How has Beethoven’s master artistry inspired or influenced you as a creative?
Beethoven was a revolutionary, willing to break with norms and traditions. It encourages me to do the same- explore musical ideas that may not be the way people expect to hear something, and not worry about the criticisms.
Beethoven was a man of great faith who saw music as a medium that could be experienced anywhere. What are your thoughts on the power of the arts to transform lives?
Art is inherently transcendent, so that part of music-making has to be acknowledged and used as best we can to bring people joy. One of my great hopes is that despite all of the terrible things that have happened during this pandemic, people will realize how much live music brings into their lives and will come back out to hear it quickly once performances resume.
"One of my great hopes is that despite all of the terrible things that have happened during this pandemic, people will realize how much live music brings into their lives and will come back out to hear it quickly once performances resume." David Mastrangelo
How did you get started on your creative journey?
I am a violinist in the Naples Philharmonic. I started playing in public schools but was not serious about it until high school. My violin teacher brought me to a summer music camp, and I got to hear talented kids my age from Juilliard pre-college. Then I got serious about playing.
I'm a professional who has been doing this professionally since I was 23. However, I'm continually trying to keep the music fresh by challenging myself with new pieces and projects. I always feel like there is more to learn and that it can be learned from anyone- not just another violinist.
Where are you now on this journey?
I have had the opportunity to play concertos with the orchestra several times, and I perform in Principal Second violin's role. Additionally, I have begun doing teaching and performance videos online during this pandemic.
What are some of your accomplishments (published works, awards, etc.)?
The best I can do is reach out to those around me and minister to them in any way I can. I cannot save the world, but I can try to make it better for those I encounter every day.
How do you connect your art to your faith?
The best I can do is to reach out to those around me and minister to them in any way I can. I can't save the world, but I can try to make it better for those I come into contact with every day.
Copyright 2020, William S. Barnett
No portion of this content can be copied, electronically stored, or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.