participated in Living ArtsEngine 2015-2017
participated in Living ArtsEngine 2012-2014
participated in Living ArtsEngine 2013-2014
Grad school was an excuse to move to New York, but still, it was a great, also a chance to hone the compositional skills a little bit, get some formal training there. And then I started freelancing as a composer and percussionist here in the city, and I’m in the contemporary classical, experimental world a little bit.
We bring their shows from beginning to life on the stage, and we facilitate the workshops and give them feedback on drafts. And we also oversee the super titles for new productions. It’s been a wild job. I’ve really been learning a lot and getting into opera at that scale. New opera at that scale is a little different from the DIY type opera stuff that I’ve been getting up to with my friends. But it’s great to have that bridge in my life, an opportunity to see how things are working at that scale.
What initially attracted you to the interdisciplinary aspects of the Living ArtsEngine Program? How did this play out in terms of your overall experience in the program? Yeah, absolutely. I grew up outside of Seattle, in Redmond, Washington, which is the town that the Microsoft headquarters is in. And so my dad and a lot of my other friends’ parents worked in the tech industry in Seattle and the area. And so, growing up, there was always a, “I’m doing all this music stuff, but maybe I should just go to engineering school.” In high school, I was taking computer science classes and doing some things with electronics and some engineering … I was on the robotics team in my high school, for example.
There was some interest in being around people who weren’t just musicians and people who were engaged in those, as the Living Arts brochure I think, said, “Making disciplines.” And so that was one of the things that attracted me to the program is that I would be around engineers and artists and architects and others from the School of Music, Theater & Dance that would help. It seemed like a good place to go and find people who were interested in doing stuff that was cross-discipline and collaborative.
Would you say that being in a dorm with students from different creative backgrounds had any impact on you as a musician and the work that you create? It’s interesting. I only realized this many years later when I had moved to New York. But one of the things I think being a percussionist prepared me to do, or maybe trained me to do, was to approach lots of different disciplines with a methodical and technique-based approach.
[As a] Percussionist, you have to be able to play all these different instruments and being able to pick up something new and try and learn how to make music out of it. It turns out those kind of skills, like physical coordination and timing, in a lot of ways opened me up to be able to get into the worlds of dance and the world of performance art. And then, just doing stuff with technology. Percussion is so contemporary-focused and world music-focused. There’s drums from all over the world. And so a lot of those things were part of my percussion education as far as electronics and new music, contemporary music, and music from all around the world.
There’s a microcosm of interdisciplinary-ness just within the world of percussion. And so coming into the Living Arts thing and being like, “Oh, I can do dance and theater and apply some of these other skills to engineering , it felt very natural to really start expanding into those directions and really exciting…….when I got my acceptance brochure and they were like, “Check out these living communities,” something about that resonated.
As someone who’s walked through the university pathway in Music, what piece of advice could you give that student, say in their freshman year? I think the main one is to go to stuff. I encourage students to go to as many things as they can without maybe overwhelming themselves. There’s a lot of work to do – But to go to your friends’ shows, go to those wacky performance art parties, go to what’s happening down in the [Living ArtsEngine]lounge. Go to what UMS is bringing to Michigan because they’re bringing some of the best artists from all over the world. Go to your friends’ recitals and concerts and show openings and competitions and plays and as many things as you can. And talk to them about it and maybe do stuff of your own if you feel up to it.