UNT College of Music student only American composer featured at international festival

Tuesday, March 1, 2016 - 14:51
UNT College of Music student composer Samuel Mikulewicz. Photo by Wendy Mikulewicz.
UNT College of Music student composer Samuel Mikulewicz. Photo by Wendy Mikulewicz.

DENTON (UNT), Texas - A composition by University of North Texas College of Music student Sam Mikulewicz has been selected for performance at the Sound of Dragon Chinese Music Festival in Vancouver on April 24. The piece, titled “Himawari,” will be played by The Sound of Dragon Ensemble, the festival’s house band. Mikulewicz is the only American composer or performer featured at the festival. He says “Himawari,” Japanese for sunflower, was inspired by his love for the large, bold blooms.

"Sunflowers are my favorite type of flower, and I've always thought they looked beautiful in fields along highways or in country sides,” Mikulewicz said. “The different sections of the piece represent different parts of the lifecycle of a sunflower, from it being planted as a seed, through its growth and eventual full bloom.”

“Himawari” was selected from 33 submissions by composers worldwide. Mikulewicz altered the instrumentation from his original piece to fit the instruments featured in the ensemble.

“I re-arranged the western instruments for the mostly Chinese instruments they use,” Mikulewicz said. “It became a piece for flute, dizi – a Chinese flute, classical guitar, ruan – a Chinese guitar-like instrument, erhu – a Chinese two-stringed violin, and cello. Most of the material stayed the same, but I had to make some idiomatic and instinctual changes.”

Mikulewicz credits his composition professor, Panayiotis Kokoras, for convincing him to enter the festival. Kokoras says he wanted to encourage Mikulewicz to pursue his strongest musical passions.

“In one of our first lessons, Sam talked to me about his interest in Japanese culture, particularly music and comics,” Kokoras said. “After a couple of meetings, we both decided it was a good idea to compose a piece that combines his classical music background with his interest in Japanese music. Part of my role as an educator is to inspire students, identify their strengths and their weaknesses and turn them into a creative force.”

Mikulewicz hopes that his new-found international exposure will have a strong impact on his future.

“It's been a dream to have my work premiered at a respected concert or festival, and to mix western and eastern styles of music successfully,” Mikulewicz said. “I'm hoping this experience will help lead to doors opening in the future, and possible friendships and connections that will further my work in composing music and creating artistic endeavors.” 


About the UNT College of Music

The College of Music is one of the largest and most respected comprehensive music schools in the world. Approximately 1,500 music students attend the college each year, participating in nearly 70 widely varied ensembles while engaged in specialized studies in performance, composition, conducting, jazz studies, music education, music history, music theory or ethnomusicology.  Music students, alumni and faculty have made appearances on the world’s finest stages, have produced numerous recordings with many receiving Grammy awards and nominations, and have written influential texts in a variety of areas in music scholarship.  Distinguished University alumni can be found around the globe in top music ensembles, opera companies, universities, and schools. 

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