CSYO: Hi Micah! Thanks for taking time to answer our questions about your time in the CSYO. What is your favorite memory from your time in CSYO?
MB: Going on tour with the CSYO to Chicago under the direction of Will White was the highlight of my time with the orchestra. It was just a lot of fun to make music with great people in unique places, such as our concert at the planetarium on the lake shore.
CSYO: We have heard that was a great trip and we have some photos from that experience. What are you doing now?
MB: I am a senior studying music composition with Dr. Steve Rouse at the University of Louisville. This fall, I’ll be attending the Academy of Music in Kraków (Akademia Muzyczna w Krakowie), which is a conservatory located in central Kraków, Poland. I’m spending a good amount of my summer break researching grad schools for next year.
CSYO: Composition is an exciting avenue! Have a great time in Poland. What an amazing experience. Can you share some highlights of what has happened to you, personally and/or professionally since graduating high school? Poland has to be part of a bigger story.
MB: I began college having never had a composition lesson. Everything I knew I had learned from observing playing in ensembles, re-engraving or arranging scores, or just trial and error in notation software. I knew I would have to work extremely hard to accomplish my dreams of being a successful composer and now, after many, many hours of writing, my music is beginning to get some attention. The Talea Ensemble premiered my piece, “Felt Stars on Nylon Strings”, my sophomore year. More recently, I was named a finalist in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and received first prize in the Arnold Salop Memorial Composition Competition. I have also been invited to study composition at the Academy of Music in Krakòw this fall.
CSYO: It would be wonderful to have the CSYO play a piece composed by you. Hopefully in the future we can talk about the possibility of a premier. Did your time in the CSYO have any influence on your decision to compose?
MB: The CSYO opened up to me a whole new world both in terms of the art to which I was exposed and the glimpses into the professional world of music. Playing in the orchestra allowed me to learn about many of these composers I would grow to admire and attending the CSO concerts with my CSYO membership exposed me to some of the greatest orchestral works and inspired me to emulate many of the unique sounds that I was hearing.
Tom Sherwood and Will White were always very supportive in my endeavors and helped to truly introduce me to the expressiveness and meaning that I now find in music. Tom has continued to meet with me periodically and has been both teacher and mentor.
CSYO: How do you think music fuels your creativity and learning?
MB: Music is a language and it is my way of expressing myself. Writing is something that I look forward to and I can (and do) happily spend whole days composing.
CSYO: As a composer, is there a single work or composer that you think people should listen to and get to know? So many people tend to shy away from newer works. Perhaps your suggestion will encourage people to explore.
MB: Kate Soper is an incredible composer who deserves a lot of attention. I most admire her chamber works with voice soloists. She uses a lot of innovative, atypical text settings and extended vocal techniques effectively in a medium that can too easily default on clichés.