WILLIAMSTOWN -- Time is running out to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign of Advocate contributor Stephen Dankner.
Dankner, who graduated a Doctor of Musical Arts from Julliard in 1971, has prepared five pieces, all in succession from December 2012 to April 2013, that he plans to perform next July in Williamstown.
"I've never had a string of such creative energy," Dankner said. "I didn't want be a ‘deadbeat dad' by creating something and abandoning it. As I got older, it became more important to justify the creative process with performances. I know composers that just write and don't worry about the pieces being performed."
The pieces are the culmination of his life's passion.
"I started when I was 15," Dankner said, "and over time forged my style. All five pieces are very different, but you can find my style. In any art form, you have to know who you are and know how to absorb from the past, learn your own weaknesses and overcome them. I've come to a place where I am doing exactly that.
"I look back on the pieces and see them as a culmination point. Also I see my 70th birthday looming, and I see this concert is a celebration.
"It's a curious thing. People tend to think you need inspiration by some event or experience to get in the frame of mind to write a piece of music, but the will to write a piece of music is enough inspiration.
Dankner said his two favorite types of music to compose are string quartets and orchestras.
"String quartets are the purest form of classical music," Dankner said. "There are no options for exotic sounds. It is pure and pristine. Orchestras are the opposite - you can do anything with it. They are the alpha and the omega of my aesthetic."
To date, Dankner has composed 10 orchestras and 18 string quartets. To put that in perspective, Ludwig van Beethoven composed 17 pieces for string quartets.
"It's been my desire to out-do Ludwig," Dankner said. "I see myself as part of this classical heritage. I'm not interested in wild and crazy things - maybe not the most modern but it is individual. I've done my best to strike a balance between being progressive, but still accessible to the audience. I am not trying to resuscitate the past, but bring the past forward."
Coming up Aug. 20 at the Clark, the Dover String Quartet will do a preview, of sorts, of the pieces Dankner has prepared for the July 13, 2014 concert.
"The Dover String Quartet will be playing one movement of my 14th quartet, ‘De Profundis,'" Dankner said. He added that "De Profundis" is latin for "from the depths," and the movement relates to the biblical Psalm 130, and is also a homage to Williams College Professor of Music Emeritus Irwin Shainman, who died in 2012.
"I've been at it 55 years," Dankner said, "and I believe I reached a level of mastery where I can create music that will move audiences and performers, too."
He said staying true to himself was key to his longevity and to being successful.
"You have to know who you are," Dankner said. "I think I am the same guy I was at 27. Each one of my compositions is like a bread crumb, and I have left a lot of bread crumbs. There is a legacy there, not straight but a line that can be followed. That's why it is important to do this now as I approach 70.
"I feel driven to do this, to see a work driven to completion: the performance. I want to close that circle with a performance. I hope I am remembered for having taken music to a tangent that was interesting and unique. If that's my legacy, I'd be thrilled."
Dankner is a little over two-thirds of the way to his Kickstarter goal of $9,000.
"I'm very close. As of now I have $7,000 pledged," Dankner said. "I'll have 30 days, as of Aug. 15, to get to $9,000. Any donation is welcome no matter how small."
To donate to Dankner's Kickstarter campaign, visit kickstarter.com and search for "Stephen Dankner." Visitors are asked to register, and will be taken to Amazon.com, where they will be asked to create an account if not already signed up. No checks or cash are accepted, and donors will not be charged unless the $9,000 goal is reached by Sept. 13 at 7:32 p.m.
In addition, Dankner is also a professional photographer and digital artist. He will be hosting an open studio art sale to benefit his Kickstarter campaign Saturday, Aug. 17, from 1 to 5 p.m. at 79 Water St.
To hear samples of Dankner's work, visit stephendankner.com, and double click on any of the recorded tracks.