Profile:Christopher Dunn-Rankin

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Christopher Dunn-Rankin has been composing since the age of 10, singing since the age of 8, and playing the piano since the age of 4. He is a fourth-year composition major at Oberlin Conservatory, and hopes to become a professional composer, as well as a music teacher. He has studied piano with Catherine Aubert, voice with John Huntington, Joy Chen, and Allison Choat, and composition with Ross Feller, Amelia Kaplan, Lewis Nielson, Jeff Kowalkowski, Michelle McQuade-Dewhirst, Randolph Coleman, Derek Keller, and Seung-Ah Oh. He has performed under the baton of Carl St. Clair, music director and principal conductor of the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and John Alexander, music director and conductor of the Pacific Chorale.

At Oberlin, Christopher performed with Collegium Musicum Oberliniense, an early music choir at Oberlin Conservatory, the Oberlin College Choir, and the Oberlin street-performance group "OCircus."



Christopher Dunn-Rankin was born on December 21, 1986, in Walnut Creek, CA. His family moved to Irvine, CA, when he was 2, and began taking him to a Saturday morning concert series at the local Performing Arts Center. This early exposure began him on his musical journey, beginning with his request, at age 3, to take piano lessons. His first piano lesson was on his 4th birthday.

When Christopher was 10, his family moved to Great Britain for a year, during which time he began composing in an Impressionistic style, heavily informed by the new-age piano music his parents listened to. Upon his return to the United States, he began to use his voice in earnest, becoming a member of the Pacific Chorale Children's Chorus.

Theatrical Influence

An avid theatre-enthusiast, Christopher took part in plays and musicals throughout his middle-school and high-school years, playing such roles as Nathan Detroit (Guys and Dolls), The Bellhop (Lend Me a Tenor), Enjolras (Les Miserables), Oberon (A Midsummer Night's Dream), Ernst Ludwig (Cabaret), and The Beast (Beauty and the Beast). During his first year at Oberlin Conservatory, Christopher continued to take part in theatrical productions, playing Whizzer in Falsettos! and Jonathan in tick... tick... BOOM! He made his operatic debut in 2007 as Billy in Kurt Weill's Mahagonny Songspiel, and recently performed in Sondheim's Assassins.

He has recently completed "The Mermaid," an opera in three acts, which was premiered at Oberlin College on May 6, 2009. In addition to this most recent theatrical work, he has also written the music for "Our Own Lives," a one-act chamber opera, and music and lyrics for "Again, Again!," a one-scene musical for an Oberlin College Theater Festival.

College Studies

Christopher graduated in May of 2009 with a BMus in Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he also took classes in Theater (Acting, Directing), Religion (The Book of Genesis, Early Christian Origins), Music Education, and Educational Psychology.

Musical Influences

Christopher's influences include theater composers Stephen Sondheim and Adam Guettel and classical composers Bela Bartók, Benjamin Britten, and Aaron Copland.


Compositions (Partial List)

Piano Quartet, "Flatline," for viola, violoncello, contrabass, and pianoforte, premiered May 2007 in Oberlin Conservatory's Kulas Recital Hall

"There is Truth to be Found (In the Small Places of the World)," a fantasia in miniature for flute and pianoforte, commissioned by Trevor Patrick Watkin for his recital at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church on July 14, 2007

"Two Songs from Sara Teasdale," for SSAA Choir, SSA sextet, mezzo-soprano solo; premiered by the Oberlin College Women's Chorale, Dec. 2007 in Oberlin Conservatory's Warner Concert Hall.

"Our Own Lives," a chamber opera in one act; libretto by Lydia Gordon; premiered February 14, 2008 at Oberlin College' Wilder Main performance space

"Memeplex," for solo organ; premiered on March 14, 2008 at Oberlin Conservatory's Warner Concert Hall

"Mr. Smith's Amazing Flying Bicycle," for solo flute and pianoforte, commissioned by Trevor Patrick Watkin for his benefit recital at Second Unitarian Church in Chicago on July 13, 2008

"Again, Again!," a one-act musical; book and lyrics by Christopher Dunn-Rankin and Lydia Gordon; written for the Oberlin College Theater and Dance Department's Fall Showcase 2008

"Fractal Torsion," for pianoforte and chamber orchestra. Premiered on March 8, 2009 at Oberlin Conservatory's Warner Concert Hall

"Ashen Azure," for soprano, Bb clarinet, two violins, cello, and harp. For Alexandra Roth and Juliana Beckel. Premiered on March 8, 2009 at Oberlin Conservatory's Warner Concert Hall. Presented on Alexandra Roth's Senior Recital on April 11, 2009 at Oberlin Conservatory's Kulas Recital Hall.

"Ontology," for three choirs, text by Stephen Crane; for the Oberlin College Choir, Dr. Hugh Floyd directing; premiered April 17 at Oberlin College's Finney Chapel

"The Mermaid," an opera in three acts. For two soprano, two mezzo, two tenor, baritone soli, chorus SSAA, piano. Premiered May 6, 2009 at Oberlin Conservatory's Warner Concert Hall.

Works-In-Progress (Partial List)

"Rappaccini's Daughter," a chamber opera in two acts. For soprano, mezzo, tenor, baritone, bass-baritone soli and chamber ensemble.

"Handfuls; 11 Etudes on Poems by Carl Sandburg," in memoriam Kevin Drewery. For soprano, tenor, flute, soprano saxophone, and contrabass.

                   Quote: "The most pitiful among men is he who turns his dreams into silver and gold."
                    --Khalil Gibran