Robert Alexander of Morgan Hill, California, was about eight years old when he had a realization while listening to the legendary John Williams soundtrack from “Star Wars:” someone had to create that music. In the years that followed, he started reading books on composition, writing music using computer software and getting advice from his band directors. This spring, Robert’s composing career took a step forward when his original composition was selected as the winner of the inaugural Interlochen Fanfare Competition.
As the winner of the competition, Robert will have the opportunity to hear his winning musical composition, “Sparks,” performed by members of the World Youth Wind Symphony at their first performance of the summer on June 29, 2013. Interlochen will bring Robert to campus so that he can witness the world premiere of his piece.
“When I won I was completely blown away,” said Robert. “I was absolutely humbled to know that I, just a young, excited and passionate kid who had no formal training in composition, not only won the competition, but [it was] the first one.” Robert describes his piece as “twinkly” and is scored for wind ensemble and centered around a minimal ostinato. The piece starts quietly and builds to a fanfare from the trumpets, adding glockenspiels and antiphonal finger cymbals.
June cannot come fast enough for Robert, who will finally have a chance to hear his work performed by a world-renowned ensemble instead of a computer program. “Hearing the top musicians play my piece … now that will be something. I have only ever heard an original piece of mine played once, and it was a rather poor sight reading by my high school band, which didn't even have the complete instrumentation. To go from that kind of skill to a nationally acclaimed level of skill will be incredible to experience.”
The Interlochen Fanfare Competition asked high school aged composers to submit an original musical composition that captured the creative spirit and energy of Interlochen Arts Camp. Submissions were judged by a panel comprised of music faculty members from Interlochen Center for the Arts. “This was the first ever contest of its kind at Interlochen and we are all thrilled at the results,” said Kedrik Merwin, director of music at Interlochen Center for the Arts. “As a music educator, it is inspiring to see the level of talent and energy that exists across the country. There are young artists out there who will seize any opportunity to create, and I am proud that we were able to provide such an opportunity through this contest.”
Robert hopes to major in music composition in college and is already applying to several top music schools including Berklee College of Music, University of Southern California, University of California at Los Angeles, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin, New England Conservatory of Music, and The Juilliard School. After graduating, he hopes to move to Los Angeles and compose music for films - like John Williams.