11-year-old composer to debut piece Monday


11-year-old composer to debut piece Monday

Patrick McBrayer will solo with San Juan Youth Symphony
Patrick McBrayer’s composing process

Patrick McBrayer, 11, who began composing music at 4, starts with humming to work out melodies.
Then he hits the keyboard or piano.
“Sometimes, it’s a cool idea, but I can hardly even play it when I start,” he said. “It can take weeks and weeks until I can play it fluently, which is what’s been happening with my current piece, ‘Kingdoms.’”
He constantly has ideas, he said, but he doesn’t always get to the keyboard with them.
“They’re rarely notated in the beginning,” Patrick said, “I usually memorize them, and when I do a melody, each time it’s a little different, so it can take a while.”
One inspiration is his little brother, Aeneas, who turns 9 next week.
“Maybe my brother will scream, and I’ll figure out how to incorporate that,” he said Monday, “or he’ll be messing around on the keyboard, and I’ll come in and play with him. Last night, we made up a duet just playing around.”
His pieces, he said, have become significantly more complex, as both his level of playing and knowledge of theory and composers has grown. His piano and music theory teacher, Gabrielle Dugan, has exposed him to classical composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven, but also lyrical modern composers such as Vandall and Bober, suited to his style. She adds some jazz and popular music on occasion.
“It takes time to compose, and it takes practice,” Patrick said. “And it also takes creativity. I just composed this really cool piece, and the melody keeps repeating. It’s hard to get variety out of it.”
Many of his pieces have been composed in the key of C minor, which is the key he knows best.
“I got too used to it, so I decided to do something in a different key,” Patrick said about “Active Orcas,” composed when he was 8.
“I wanted to do one with the most sharps, so I chose B, which was the one I knew at the time.”
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If you go

The San Juan Youth Symphony will perform the world premiere of Patrick McBrayer’s “To the Beach” at its concert at 7 p.m. Monday at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College.
The concert will include performances by the Junior Orchestra under the direction of Bill LaShell, the Philharmonic under the direction of Molly Jensen, and the San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestra featuring high school and college students under the direction of Lech Usinowicz.
The program also will include “The Empire Strikes Back Medley” and the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor as part of the San Juan Symphony’s week-long Beethoven Festival.
Tickets are $5/adults and $3/student or child and are available online at www.durangoconcerts.com or by calling 247-7657.
Auditions for the fall season of the San Juan Symphony Youth Orchestras will begin at 5 p.m. May 9. Students who have taken music lessons for at least a year wishing to join one of the orchestras or who wish to move up a level should make an appointment with Usinowicz at 799-4303.
Patrick’s CD of original compositions, “Way of Water,” including “To the Beach,” is available at Southwest Sound, 922 Main Ave., for $14.99.
He will premiere his new piece, “Kingdoms,” at a piano recital featuring Gabrielle Dugan’s students at 4 p.m. April 24 at the First Baptist Church of Durango, 332 E. 11th St.

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