Unanimous is pleased to announce a call for scores for one of their upcoming concerts in their debut season.

Unanimous is a student/alumnus run new music ensemble from Michigan State University that focuses exclusively on works by emerging composers. Works that are submitted to Unanimous must meet the following requirements:

  1. Compositions must be between 5 – 15 minutes in length.
  2. Compositions must be written for instrumental/vocal solo or instrumental/mixed chamber works only.
    1. The following instrumentation will be available by Unanimous: fl, ob, cl, sax, tpt, tbn, euph, 2 perc., pf, gtr, SATB voices, 1 (maybe 2) vn, va, vc, db.
    2. While you are allowed to submit pieces that involve instruments not listed above, the chances of being selected are low due to the difficulty of finding additional musicians.
  3. Compositions with electro-acoustic music elements will not be accepted at this time.
  4. The composer’s name must not appear on any of the materials. Instead, submit the materials with a pseudonym. If selected, we will ask you to submit the materials with your name on them.

Submit the following materials to unanimousensemble@gmail.com

  1. Score in PDF format
  2. Live/studio recording in mp3. (MIDI is acceptable)
  3. Short bio less than 150 words.
  4. A contact info document with the composer’s real name.

The deadline is Dec 1st, 2014. Selected works will be notified two weeks after the deadline by email. The concert date is currently TBA sometime in late March/early April.

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great summer break.

I will say very quickly that my trip in Milna, Croatia was an amazing experience! From meeting composers with the same interest as me who are also quite talented, to exploring many parts of Brac was truly something that motivated me for the first time since last year. I would love to fly back there, but for now, we need to move on. I will talk more about Croatia later… but first check this out!

Recently, I formed a new music ensemble called Unanimous. Unanimous is a student/alumnus run organization that will spread the awareness of new music by known and emerging composers to the Lansing area and beyond. Although the group originated from four musicians, the committee, we have 12 musicians in the roster and growing. Like Michigan State University’s Musique 21, we work on a rotation cycle, so not everyone will be here.

Our schedule features many great opportunities that you won’t want to miss! Starting on October 17th, we début out first concert in Cook Hall at MSU which will feature pop-minimalist music from composers David Lang, Bill Ryan, Marc Mellits, Dan Becker and Louis Andriessen. Then between December 1st and December 3rd (still figuring out which date), we will feature a theatrical concert at the RCAH Theater on MSU’s campus. This particular concert will feature three compositions by myself, which relate thematically, and Natalie Moller’s Lepidoptera, which I highly recommend watching!

The second semester concert dates are unofficial, but one concert will feature a shared concert with Ann Arbor’s Willo-Collective, and another is a call-for-scores concert, which I will post the details later today.

My intentions for this ensemble is to make Unanimous a professional ensemble and not a one year deal like many ensembles before. Assuming that this season goes well, we will look into performing in festivals, and other parts of the U.S. to spread the word about Unanimous.

Today, I am here to give you an update on how my time as a freelance composer has been so far. I will also give some advice to those who are about to dive into the world outside of the comfortable academic circle.

I jumped out of the academic lifestyle last May when I graduated with a masters degree in music composition at Michigan State University. At the beginning, I managed to work on three composition projects: euphonium sonata with piano, clarinet/percussion duo, and a grade IV band piece (eventually adding a project for percussion trio in December). While this was all exciting and fun, life quickly became quite stressful and unsatisfying. Although I was no longer bound to the assignments/projects that was required in school, I had to find a way to manage my schedule so I could compose effectively while working for my Dad and teaching at Jackson College. This resulted in me being very exhausted, making my projects much slower in the composition process. I even had to postpone a project because of how overwhelmed I was. In addition, I was also applying for graduate school for DMA studies and summer festivals.

As time went on, things started to look up for me little by little. I have been able to write more and more music for some of my projects. I completed two composition interviews at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, which I felt quite content with, as well as feeling extremely excited about their composition program! I am teaching at Jackson College with a booming roster of 29 students (slightly more than double my class size last semester!) Throughout this school year, I have been able to travel around the country to meet some of the finest composers for advice on my portfolio as well as my path as a composer. More recently, I have been selected as 1 of 16 composers to study abroad in Croatia for two weeks. So while my experience so far has been mixed, I am truly enjoying my experience as a freelance composer!

Now, for the excited emerging composer/performer/theorist/whatever your “weapon of choice” is, I will give you some useful advice that I have used and learned from many people who have also experienced this moment. Credit for advice goes to Ricardo Lorenz, Carter Pann, David Maslanka, my Dad, and other articles that I have found online.

1. Always be driven to compose music. Many composers have made this suggestion to me and I will do the same for you. No matter what you have on your to-do list, always make sure you are creating music in some way, shape, or form. Even if there are no deadlines/goals, make a goal, make a deadline. It will help you push further and give you some excitement for more projects as well as maintaining the habit of writing.

2. Build and keep up connections/networking. This was a difficult step for me since I have always been a shy person. The key point is to think of everyone as equals. Every composer, from a Michael Goodman to a John Adams, is a human being. We might think highly of Adams, but to the public, he is nothing more than a person. As long as you have that type of mindset, you will have no problem approaching composers and performers unless they are trying to ignore you.

3. Collaborate through symbiotic collaboration. Ricardo Lorenz taught our composition seminar last spring about the process of symbiotic collaboration, which in my opinion should be the new standard of collaborations and commissions. Although I can not go on a large-scale explanation on the concept of symbiotic collaboration, I will say that through this process, you will not only write a piece, but you will learn a lot about a specific instrument/voice, the strengths/weaknesses of a particular musician and most importantly learn about each other. I composed Dialectics with Genevieve Beaulieu and we both loved the collaboration! Do this as much as possible! You will not regret it! (More information on symbiotic collaboration.) Link by Tom Childs.

4. Expect more failures than successes. This step has been and will always be an issue for me, since I consider myself to be a perfectionist. When it comes to jobs, competitions, commissions, graduate school, the chances of succeeding are lower than what we expect. When you are denied a job or a college, it is not an indicator that you are a horrible musician, but rather it either did not meet the panel’s interest or there was not enough room to add anymore people to a studio. Such a frustrating process. Instead of hiding in a corner and moping about your failures, take a look at the failed goal, look at it with glaring eyes and fight back. Failures will help you become determined since you will have something to prove to others the next time you apply.

5. Collaborate with music programs from the K-12 system. Although many composers, including myself, shun at the idea of writing music for the K-12 system, it is a great way to get your name out to the music world; especially if you want to make good money. Also, the public schools are always more than happy to work with composers.

6. Attend as many concerts as possible (specifically new music concerts or concerts with new music). Through this school year, I have been to more concerts and recitals than I ever been to through the six years at MSU. This is great for many reasons. As a composer, you will always learn new things through concerts. In addition, it is an excellent way of making connections with composers, performers, and others associated with the musical business. Two examples: I have been to Ann Arbor for many concerts within the past three months. Specifically the Midwest Composers Symposium and the Willo Collective. At the symposium, I met several composers from Michigan who had outstanding pieces as well as great personalities. I also learned about the overall musical language of each college. At the time, I was quite impressed by the originality each work, which made me challenge myself. I decided to challenge myself by breaking many boundaries to write anything possible. No apologies whatsoever! The Willo Collective Concert, which was at the Yellow Barn, gave me more reasons why I would love to write more works for percussion as well as experimenting with dance.

7. Work on other skills involving your career. These can include teaching, recording services, performing, publishing, conducting, music business, and other venues related to music.

8. Apply to graduate schools? It depends on what you are looking for. If you want to teach composition, then by all means, apply for a masters and a doctoral program. If you do not want to teach, it is not necessary to earn any graduate degrees. For the non-teachers, the only benefit of having a masters degree is that it will give you more time to learn more about writing. Personally, I’m applying for a doctoral program since when I do get a job, I will be able to use the said college as a vehicle to perform my pieces as often as possible while helping young eager composers become better communicators. In general, the goal for composers is to not be a teacher with a job. It’s too limited, too short, and it shows that composing is only a secondary chore and not your main focus. A realistic goal is to live life as a professional composer who inspires to become what he/she truly wants to be while maintaining a decent/fantastic financial lifestyle like teaching.

9. Publicize yourself with confidence. Musicians have to grow a strong skin when it comes to putting yourself out to the small but competitive musical world. It takes a lot of energy and patience, but there will be a moment when something will click. It was not until last year when I had about eleven interested musicians who wanted to play my music. (ten for The Two Siblings and one for Dialectics).

10. Take as much time as possible to reach your goals. What is the rush? Although many people have made this suggestion to me, Lorenz, Pann, and my Dad have emphasized this reason to me through their experiences while away from school (Pann took one year off from Michigan, while Lorenz took five years off before going to Chicago to study with Shulamit Ran). It is normal to feel jealous, angry, and stressed during the first year because everything is so much different from when you were in school. While some people want to get out of school, I feel the exact way when it comes to going back to school! The main thing to point out is that there is no rush whatsoever when it comes to education. Unless an apocalypse occurs, the degree will not go anywhere. Going to college is not a race and neither is art. Music in particular takes many hours to perfect and rushing things will ruin that concept. So enjoy yourself and do what feels right for you.


For those of you who are attending school, or teaching, I hope you are having a nice summer break/nice time with summer classes… As for everyone else, I hope you are all well.

Well, ladies and gentleman, as of last month, I have graduated from Michigan State University with a master’s degree in Music Composition. It has truly been an honor that my six years in college were all well spent with some of the finest musicians one could find as well as the many opportunities and memories.

During my second year as a graduate student, I was able to première three new compositions: Piano, Test Drive, and Dialectics. Piano was the first song cycle I’ve composed using the text from Floyd Skloot, Patrick Phillips, and Dick Allen. Sung by Peter Boylan, under the direction of Philip Obado. Test Drive was the piece that won the Honors Competition during the spring semester of 2012, which had its premiere last February. Performed by Musique 21 also under the direction of Philip Obado. Last but certainly not least was Dialectics, an unaccompanied bassoon solo which was written in collaboration with Genevieve Beaulieu as part of MUS 881: Composition Seminar Symbiosis. All three compositions were performed at a level that I have not seen before in my work which I appreciate! Through every premiere/performance/collaboration, I not only learn a lot from what works and what does not work in my music, but I learn even more about my musicians/friends when working on the material. Though the following piece is not a première, The Two Siblings is the first original composition that had its first performance outside of MSU. It was performed at my brother’s saxophone recital in Stamps Auditorium at the University of Michigan campus. Please do not judge, for those of you who are from MSU and Ohio State.

I also had the opportunity to complete and defend my thesis Life Circle. Although I am thrilled with the overall result of the final product, the process was quite frustrating; more so than Fantonium and the Saxophone Concerto. Being that this post only pertains to a “brief” summary, I will only mention a concise statement of the process. This was the first composition that involved not only a real event, but also an event that was a huge contribution to my memories from the past. I will eventually write a post on Life Circle.

As for festivals, I was accepted to soundSCAPE, in Maccagno, Italy. As for the rest of the festivals, I was placed on the waiting list for the second consecutive year for Brevard, and I was denied by FUBIS, June in Buffalo, and Nebraska.

So now that I have graduated from college and I’m not going straight into doctoral school, what’s next?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not an easy one to explain. I am now in the process of applying for many jobs ranging from teaching at a community college, to possibly working with a large music publishing company as a music engraver/producer. I have not heard from anyone yet, but then again, something will come up. I am also more than willing to learn more skills as well.

I am also trying to form a new music ensemble as a way to not only give myself in outlet of my music but an extra opportunity for composers, conductors, and performers to work on something like Musique 21, Neo-Collective, or Alarm Will Sound. The current name of the proposed ensemble is After the Beep, taken from “Please leave a message after the beep…BEEP!!”

This is it for now. As I mentioned earlier, I will talk about Life Circle in the next post as well as my new projects: particularly Elements for clarinet (Sarah Manasreh) and percussion (Kelsey Tamayo).

As we are closing 2012 behind us, I wanted to take a moment to recap the year 2012 with the good and the bad.

Like 2011, 2012 was also quite an interesting year. Here are a few moments that happened to me this year:

  • Won the Michigan State University Honors Competition with Test Drive (Chamber Ensemble Category).
  • Was placed on the waiting list for the Brevard music festival.
  • Premiered “The Two Siblings” with my brother Eddie. 4/17/2012
  • Began working on my thesis “Life Circle” for orchestra during the summer break.
  • Earned an assistant ship in the Music Theory Department as a staff member of the Theory Tutoring Center.
  • Two of my students received division one ratings at Solo and Ensemble. Current record is 4-0-0 (Division 1 ratings – Division 2 ratings – Other ratings).
  • Premiered “Piano” Song cycle for baritone voice and Pierrot Ensemble 11/7/2012.
  • Commissioned to compose two works; one for brass choir and the other for tuba and boom whacker ensemble.

In general, 2012 was a great year for me. Since this is the second time that I have written a recap on the year, I thought it would be interesting to compare my goals for 2012 with my 2012 recap. Here are the goals that did NOT happen this year:

  • Get accepted into the Nebraska Institute of Music for this summer. Result – denied.
  • Have a few pieces performed out-of-state.

Not bad really. So for 2013, I will keep pushing myself while maintaining my ambitiousness, determination, and motivation. Here are my goals:

  • Finish Life Circle before mid-March
  • Have a college/professional orchestra perform Life Circle.
  • Have Test Drive performed by Musique 21 (not really a goal since it will be performed).
  • Have a piece performed outside of Michigan State.
  • Get accepted to at least one summer institution.
  • Get a piece in a SCI conference/any conference.
  • Write a piece for Brass Band.
  • …and look for many opportunities that I can.
  • OH! and post more often!

These goals may not be as easy as I wrote them, but I am more than willing to work towards those goals. Here’s to 2013.

It has been awhile since I made my last post, though I need to start writing on here more often; like once a week.

Let me begin this post by saying congratulations to my friends who have been able to find jobs in music! In my opinion, music is a difficult area to find a great job especially in Michigan. (Then again, I have no idea how the music job market in Michigan is). For those of you who have not landed a job yet, I am sure you’ll find a job soon, and hopefully it will be a big job!

Now, this school year is a huge year for me. Two years ago, I mentioned how my senior year was the big year. Well, this school year is much bigger than 2010-2011 for many reasons. I will be a G.A. for the first time ever working in the Theory Tutoring Center, I have a composition that will be performed by Kevin Noe or Kevin Sedatole and Musique 21 on February 27th at 7:30pm in the RCAH Theatre, I will apply to numerous summer institutions (not DMA schools), I will be working on a thesis for full orchestra that will also be a competitor for the MSU Honors Competition, reading sessions, and hopefully look for internships in music publishing.

So essentially, this year is more of a “make it or break it”, because I want to make a great impression to those who I’m working for.

Some of you are wondering “Why is Michael not applying to D.M.A. schools for the 2013-2014 school year?” The truth is that I honestly do not feel confident with my portfolio. By taking one year off from school, I will have more time polishing up my portfolio, I will be able to add more to my portfolio, and I want to get into the best DMA school as possible. In addition, it be a neat experience to work at a music publishing company during the year, since I tend to be paranoid when it comes to formatting music. Sometimes, when I’m score studying a piece that was written 5-10 years ago by John Corigliano, Steven Bryant, or Michael Tillson Thomas, I leave the score wondering, “Why in the world would you do that to a dynamic, or a measure, or etc.?”

So far, this summer has been quite relaxing, and enjoyable…for the most part.

About a month ago in my hometown; Mason, MI, the music program in the middle school and high school have once again been placed on the list of things that will be cut by the so-called Board of Education. To say the least, Mason’s band program is still active, despite the changes that the Board has made (I can not go into any further detail on this subject since this is all I know).

You’re probably asking yourselves, “How does that relate to the subject of this blog?” Before I answer that question directly to you, let me talk about a very interesting and motivating interview that has helped me think of how to reach opportunities as well as landing on your dream job.

Recently, I have listened to a few interviews conducted by Sirius Radio’s shock jock Howard Stern. Despite being notorious for being outspoken, controversial, and uncensored material, Stern’s interviews with many of the celebrities are priceless; they’re extremely informative. One interview in particular completely changed my view on jobs and one person: Lady Gaga (of all the people right?). From the 75 minute interview, the most interesting section was when Gaga explains the struggles and hardship she went through to go from Stephanie to Gaga. They relate to some of our struggles and hardships, though none of my music education graduate friends never dropped out of college, haha. For instance: Gaga attended Tisch of the Arts in NYU for one semester studying musical theatre, dropped out due to the “biased education” she was receiving, she moves into an apartment in NY, worked as a waitress and as an employee at a music publisher company, none of her parents helped her with money, and Gaga was on drugs. It wasn’t until one year later, Gaga was able to get a contract deal from Def Jam.

Stern later asked her what advice would you give to an artist who’s great but struggling to get to the top. The concise answer from Gaga: RISK. That’s the answer.

In order to be successful in music, business, show business, math, science, teaching, in general, you need to take risks to stand out from the rest of the crowd. If you’re too preserved and have a résumé that is typical for a recent graduate, then chances are, it’ll be harder for you to find the right job. If you are outgoing, versatile, a leader, and confident, along with an experienced resume that could wow the employer, then your chances of getting a job are higher than the average Joe. I’m not trying to scare you about job hunting: it’s a fact. I take risk all the time, since my degree, music composition, is a competitive degree to find a job since only doctorate graduates and talented master graduates can get, and those jobs are quite limited. Who knows, I could work at a university as a teacher in music composition, but instead I might work for a music publisher like G. Schirmer, or be a manager of a music store, or become a sales representative of a product.

What I’m trying to say, and I bet you have heard of this all the time, is that you need to take risks, patience, work your tail off, and when in doubt, always have a backup plan.

This post is dedicated to my music education friends who graduated from the College of Music at Michigan State University last month. Class of 2012!