Music Instructor Marcus Engelmann Premieres Original Orchestral Composition with the Santa Maria Philharmonic

Performance is Feb. 16.

M Engelmann and PianoFEBRUARY 7, 2013 -- More than 25 years ago, music instructor Marcus Engelmann wrote an orchestral composition titled “Earthrise.”  On Feb. 16, he will hear it performed in its entirety for the first time.

“I couldn’t quite believe it,” Engelmann said.  “Only when I saw it in the official program did I feel like I could tell anyone.”

As it turns out, Engelmann explained, the only thing more difficult than writing an orchestral piece is getting it performed.  The number of orchestras is dwindling every year, Engelmann explained.  Most orchestras also prefer to perform well-known pieces, making it even more exciting that the Santa Maria Philharmonic chose “Earthrise” to be performed alongside works by Wagner, Verdi and Beethoven.

“This is one of my major works, my only orchestral piece,” Engelmann said.  “This is really a once in a lifetime event for me.”

Engelmann, a longtime instructor and past chair of the fine arts department, has been at Allan Hancock College since 1986, teaching music theory, music appreciation, electronic music and sound recording.  “Earthrise” was his master’s thesis work, written while he was a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Engelmann holds a doctorate in music composition from the University of Illinois in addition to his master’s, and a bachelor’s degree in music education from Heidelburg College.

At the time Engelmann wrote “Earthrise” it would have been described as avant-garde, he said, drawing inspiration from a photo of Earth taken from the moon.

“I think for a lot of people it will still be a type of music they’re not familiar with, but it may sound similar to what they’ve heard used in a dramatic movie score,” Engelmann said.  “I definitely want people to have a sense of journey and to have a sense of moving through time with the piece.”  

Engelmann spent the summer of 2012 re-copying the original of “Earthrise” onto the computer and separating it into 33 separate parts for the musicians of the Santa Maria Philharmonic.  It was a labor of love for Engelmann who has composed numerous pieces throughout the years, but never another orchestral piece, solely because of the difficulty of having them performed.

He will have the unique opportunity to explain “Earthrise” to the audience before the musicians take to the stage on Feb. 16.  For the last three seasons, Engelmann has been a guest lecturer for the philharmonic, explaining to concert-goers what they are about to hear.  The significance of getting to speak on what exactly went into his own creation is not lost on Engelmann.

“So often we are able to hear recordings over and over again until we’re not really paying attention anymore,” Engelmann said.

Not this time.

“This is live, and it’s exciting and nerve-wracking and a chance to share what has been a major part of my life,” he said.

The Santa Maria Philharmonic will present “Earthrise” on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at the Grace Baptist Church, located at 605 East McCoy Lane in Santa Maria.  The pre-concert lecture begins at 6:50 p.m.  Ticket information is available at santamariaphilharmonic.org.  Tickets are $12-$30, with discounts for students, seniors and members of the military.

- AHC -

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Last Modified May 2, 2014