While it isn’t entirely unusual for musicians to raise musical children, it is fairly rare for a composer to have not one, but two sons who also compose. This is the case for composition professor Alan Schmitz, who, together with his sons Christopher and Eric, presents ACE COMPOSERS II, a curated selection of contemporary chamber music which proves that the apple sometimes does fall further from the tree, at least in some regards. It would be impossible to mistake either one’s works for that of any of the others: too distinct are the individual idiosyncrasies – the swooping, late-Romantic phrases, the sober, experimental minimalism, and the jazzy groove. Nevertheless, they are all united by one commonality – aesthetic appeal seems to run in the family.
Today, Alan is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our composers and performers. Read on to learn about his greatest passions, and his sound advice for making big decisions…
What inspires you to write and/or perform?
Inspiration comes mostly from the opportunity for a good performance. Sometimes there is a reason to create a statement, such as something relevant to a political or social issue.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
It’s very likely I might have pursued a career as a mechanic or builder. As a young person I was very interested in autos and boats (both model and full size). Now, in retirement, I am pretty much the go to guy for handyman and fix-it jobs around the house (painting, clearing drain clogs, replacing light fixtures, etc).
What advice do you have for young musicians?
Always do some research (perhaps online) before jumping into something as important as school choice, religion, a large creative project, or personal life choices and goals. Also, try to save money for your retirement years.
Who are (were) your musical mentors?
My mentors were my most supportive and caring teachers, music professors, and colleagues who helped me get jobs or my pieces commissioned and performed. Special thanks to my first guitar teacher, Noel Busch, who not only taught me lessons and asked me to write my first piece of music, but also got me my first real job as a guitar instructor at a music store. He had an incredible influence on my musical life, career, and creative path.
What are your other passions besides music?
My greatest passion would have to be my family, especially giving support and encouragement to my children and grandchildren. Another passion includes civil rights and equality causes for minorities.
What were your first musical experiences?
Hearing/seeing my maternal grandfather play fiddle, harmonica, guitar (not all at once), and sing old time songs. Playing sandpaper blocks in a 1st grade music ensemble performance. Singing in chorus at school.