-- Article written by Carreen Maloney --

Dorian Marko

Artist Origin Story

By Carreen Maloney

From the moment Dorian Marko starts playing a piano, a flurry of fingers striking keys with agile and nimble speed evokes a cascading array of notes of a velocity that almost seems to defy the laws of physics. Dorian achieved his mastery of crystal-clean rapid-fire precision not accidentally, but by design. With an approach to playing piano that blends both art and science, the music he creates is an expression of his deep-seated belief that even the most revered classical compositions can be played with the pianist’s own impressions of the piece layered onto the composer’s original construction and intent.

It’s a controversial idea; Dorian’s renegade style has irked some of the music teachers he has encountered on his journey to develop his skills. But that negativity hasn’t deterred him from embracing and advocating his hard-won philosophies.

“In the ‘real’ world beyond the small world of institutional traditional classical music, there’s a creative space for all types of artists, and young musicians need to understand this and not be told otherwise.”

Dorian is an extreme player who explores the emotions evoked by a piece of music to the maximum. When a composition is meant to be sad, his playing plumbs the depth of sorrows, and when it’s meant to be angry, he brings an unmistakable tone of fury into the notes. Dorian is also determined to break existing physical limits experienced when people play the piano. That mission drove him to study the physics and mechanics of the instrument to understand how to hone and perfect the body’s ability to play faster without sacrificing precision. He worked with chiropractors and physiotherapists in a quest to figure out how to optimize the body for this type of movement. He also experimented with various meditation methods and breathing exercises. His hands used to get cold and stiff, and warming them up wasn’t solving the problem. He found a solution in the Wim Hof Method, a regime created by a Dutch extreme athlete known for his ability to tolerate freezing temperatures using breathing techniques and gradual cold exposure.

Studying a range of methods along with performing various physical exercises helped Dorian optimize muscle speed, strength, mobility, flexibility, coordination, and balance. He views these workouts as a similar process to that practiced by athletes. He also conducts memory training experiments, teaching himself to learn pieces of music when he isn’t even sitting at the piano. By the time he touches the keys, a muscle memory of the notes has etched onto his mind so completely that he feels as if he’s already played the music before.

Dorian began playing piano when he was eight years old. As he continued to study music into his teenage years, he showed promise and began winning regional competitions. By age 18, he was accepted into a well-respected conservatory in London. But it was a disappointing experience. Dorian noticed that in addition to clashing idealistically with his professors, his technique began to deteriorate, so he left the school after just one year. He auditioned at a prestigious music college in the United States and was awarded a scholarship, but he still needed to find a sponsor to help with living costs. One of the contacts he made on his search for sponsorship was Derek Sivers, the American musician and entrepreneur who founded CD Baby in 1998. Sivers initially created his company to distribute his own music and grew it into a formidable force as an online distributor of independent music by many noteworthy artists.

“This was a turning point in my career, because when I asked him to sponsor me, he listened to my work and told me that I don't need more schooling, and to get out into the world and start ‘doing’. Deep inside, I knew he was right, so that was exactly what I did. I decided to drop out of the education system and finally take my musical career into my own hands.”

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