David J. Erskine
Dave has been composing music for solo piano since the third grade, and is mostly self-taught. His music is vivid and thoughtful, evocative contemporary classical, romantic with impressionistic textures, with an emphasis on interesting melodies and their development. Many of his pieces tell a story or are inspired by scenes from Nature. He has performed original music at many weddings, recitals and soirees.
Around the house growing up, his father played a lot of Bach and Handel, so Dave's earlier compositions featured counterpoint. Then in his 20's Dave listened to a lot of Chopin and Rachmaninoff, Dubussy and Ravel, and these influenced his style toward the romantics and impressionists. Listening to the programmatic music of Holst about the Planets inspired Dave to write Sierra Passage, a suite of seven movements describing an imaginary journey to the mountains. Dave is also an avid photographer and artist, and for the Sierra Passage he created drawings and poems to accompany each movement.
Dave composes for the love of music and earns his living by being a scientist and inventor in the field of optics at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He is an instrument maker and loves the creativity involved with discovering a better way to measure or observe something. In 1997 he invented a new way to detect the presence of an exoplanet around a star by measuring the small Doppler shift wobble in the star's spectrum. His invention (Externally Dispersed Interferometry) is now being tested at the Mt. Palomar Observatory in a collaboration of scientists and students from University of California at Berkeley and Cornell University.
His diverse interests and skills are perhaps the result from dual influences of his parents and grandparents-- both his mother and grandmother were accomplished artists, and his father and grandfather were a scientist and engineer. His brothers and sisters are also very musical and artistic. Dave grew up in the Chicago area, attended University of Illinois and Cornell University studying physics. In 1984 he relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, where his musical side blossomed, especially through his frequent hikes through the lovely mountains and forests of that area.
Photo credits, top to bottom:
Don Bartletti, Dallas Mark, Amy Dunn, Al Phillips, Joseph at Rio Rancho Library