There’s a chance that Stephan Moccio is writing his newest song right now somewhere in the skies between Toronto and Los Angeles, 30,000 feet above the ground. “It’s peculiar,” he reflects, “Toronto and LA are so different but they’re both a huge part of what I do, and often I find that the inspiration for some of my best music comes when I’m traveling between them.” For Moccio, it’s a familiar feeling. “There are many times when I find myself caught between opposing forces in my music. Is it classical or pop? Am I a performer or a composer? Do I collaborate or work alone? As a creator, these are questions that I face every day. And finding answers is somewhat of a balancing act,” he pauses, “because they are usually somewhere in between.”
In the landscape of contemporary music, populated largely by those who pick a formula and stick to it, Stephan Moccio stands apart as somewhat of an anomaly. His talent makes him a musical savant – he’s an artist, composer, performer, producer, arranger, and conductor – and his ambition has brought him success in all of his many roles. His fans know the story well; a classically-trained pianist with a publishing deal by his early 20s, Moccio penned the multi-platinum No. 1 hits “A New Day Has Come” by Celine Dion and “I Believe” by Nikki Yanofsky, the latter of which became the official theme of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver. He’s also won widespread praise for his work as a solo artist. In a glowing review of his music, Billboard Magazine wrote that “Moccio’s piano acts as the poet’s pen.” But for all the success he’s had, Moccio isn’t content to only sit back and revel in his achievements.
“The promise of possibility, using music to take people somewhere they haven’t been – that has always been at the heart of what I do.” The innovation that runs throughout Moccio’s work is what has made him a luminary within some of the world’s most prestigious artistic circles and won him fans worldwide, and it’s what continues to drive him. “I’m not afraid of new ideas because I think people are intelligent and enjoy being challenged, but I also understand that the music people remember has something familiar about it,” he says. His ability to seamlessly blend new and old is part of what makes his music so innovative. “I think that focusing too much on chasing whatever the latest trend is risks cheapening the art,” he continues, “but if you aren’t willing to try something new, to push yourself to see what’s possible, you end up being mediocre by recycling old ideas. I try to find the perfect balance between the two.”
The symmetry that Moccio weaves into his music informs not only the way it sounds, but also how he creates it. “There’s a very spontaneous aspect of my work. I’m a visceral composer, and I find inspiration everywhere. When I’m traveling, for example – there’s something so peaceful about being on a plane so far up above the world, isolated. It always seems to spark an idea in me.” But Moccio is careful to point out that those moments of intuitive creativity are tempered by another, more grueling side of what he does. “It requires a lot of work to expand and polish those ideas until they become a complete piece of music. Sometimes I spend hours alone in my studio at the piano working out the nuances of a single melody until I perfect it.”
Even after composing the theme for one of the world’s most prestigious events, the 2010 Olympic Vanvouver Winter Games, Moccio remains a tireless disciple of his craft, continually involved in projects spanning all different genres and mediums. His music is boundless because it contains something of everything, blending beauty with strength, subtlety with fearlessness, and wisdom with passion. His work bears the mark of an artistry all his own, at once immediate and elusive, lingering just beyond the reach of words but animate and unmistakable in his music. And for as much as he’s already done, Moccio is poised for even greater heights, always innovating in defiance of a world of absolutes and bridging the space between what is and what can be.