Born: October 20, 1983 Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra
Mike fully realized he wanted to be involved in music while taking his first music theory class during his junior year of high school. Excelling rather quickly, it became clear he had a natural understanding of music (theory & practices), thanks in part through the encouragements of his closest friends and teachers, and most importantly of his then recently-deceased grandfather, who also led a musically- involved life. Two big band compositions were created during his senior year (2001) and performed various times, including as part of a jazz ensemble competition held yearly at the Springville Pageant of Bands. That year, the DHS Jazz Ensemble took first place, after not having done so since 1995.
While at the State University of New York at Buffalo (2001-2005), Mike’s compositional skills and understanding of music theory soared even further, resulting in a massive body of original compositions that were performed and recorded by various groups. Some of these groups include: the UB Jazz Ensemble (“That’s Okay- We’ll Meet Again”, “Pergola”), the UB Jazz Octet (“I Dig That Bossa”, “Centerport”, “Go That Way”), and the UB Symphony Orchestra (“Smoke-Filled Bar”). Through the generous support from the UB Concert Band director Jon Nelson, Mike’s music traveled out of the limits of Buffalo, and into the realm of Fredonia, where director Raymond Stewart premiered some of his concert band compositions (“Heart of Darkness”, “The Electrically-Charged Samba in 5/2”) with much success, invoking a dialogue with jazz band director and baritone saxophonist Bruce Johnstone.
More original works were created during his first year as a graduate student at NYU (2005-current) (including “New Era” for the NYU Jazz Orchestra, “Greek Goddess” for jazz nonet, “Mighty Little Watchdog” for the NYU Latin Ensemble), but even more arranging projects were done as well- something pretty much non-existent from Mike’s repertoire while at UB. Some arrangements include: for the NYU Jazz Orchestra (“Gloria’s Step”, “The Street…Brought to You by the Letters D-A-V-E”, aka “Sesame St. Torture”, and “For Dave, Who is our Candyman”, aka “Pure Imagination Rip-off”.
During the summer, more arrangements were produced including a rediculous interpretation of Fred Rogers' Won't You Be My Neighbor now titled entitled Mr. Rogers' Gonna Make You Work This Neighborhood. More legit arrangements include Spain for the Latin Ensemble, and of a Brazilian chorro entitled Um a Zero for the big band. The newest original composition done for the fall is the funky Wheel of Wonder for the big band, which consists of an infectious groove, counterpoint, and a free-wheeling (no pun intended) circus climax with Piccolo going crazy at the top of the band. This has garnered the most success so far, easily surpassing New Era. Another arrangement, Angel Eyes set to a tango groove, is on its way for the spring, and even more originals are currently in the works as always.
Many of these projects were performed multiple times at popular venues like the restaurant/bar Garage on 7th ave. South (w/the NYU Jazz Orchestra twice per month during the school year), the jazz club Blue Note on West 3rd st. (with the NYU Jazz Orchestra, the Gil Goldstein Nonet, and the MK Groove Orchestra), and there was even a public performance of the NYU Jazz Orchestra at the 2006 IAJE Conference in January. There, Mike's original New Era was performed in front of a crowd of well over 700 people. Outside of the immediate realm of NYU, Mike plays bari sax with the funk group MK Groove Orchestra, which is originally based out of the New School. On March 31, the MKGO held a CD release party at the Blue Note, with much success. On October 13, the group returned with another off-the-wall excursion in a special tribute to Halloween.
The Fall 2006 semester also saw the creation of the EMMPH 10-piece jazz band, put together by Mike & Elleni, in response to the desire for an outlet of entirely creative original music. Meeting every friday night, the core of the group consists of members (current & former) of the NYU Jazz Orchestra. Some originals include the Brothers Beaty Gittin' it Together hoedown, the return of the Wheel of Wonder, Greek Goddess, and NYC Piece, a composition about the debut of his writing skills (and life in general) in New York City. Elleni compliments the band book with her own set of originals as well. The group completed a demo CD on December 10th, finished up their MySpace website profile, and compiled their first full-length CD, The EMMPH 10- Laying the Foundation just in time for distribution at their first public performance, the Galapagos Art Space on May 13th 2007. Currently, Mike is working on even more new material for the group, including more arranging projects as well.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment to date occurred during Mike’s 1st year at NYU, with his interest in film music. Together with his girlfriend Elleni Maureas, they formed EMMPH, whose objective is to compose original music for all genres of film & television, as well as for various settings (underscoring for dialogue, silent films, etc.) Their skills together have taken shape immensely thanks to the professional criticisms of Mr. Michael Patterson, an LA-based film & TV composer for 20+ years, who currently teaches film music & piano between NYU, Manhattan School of Music, and Mannes School of Music. They have risen to the top of their class, and even took advantage of the opportunity to view films presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in May, and to interact one-on-one with the directors, establishing dialogues for potential work. Their DVD with samples of their work (including music written for feature film clips like “Hudsucker Proxy”, the TV movie “Helter Skelter”, and NYU student films “H ideo the Photographer” and the silent “Gamine”) is available upon request.
Mike and Elleni live in Brooklyn, with Chuckie the cat, who has the knowledge...
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