The Mesquite Symphony Orchestra (MSO), a volunteer community ensemble, recently announced the appointment of its first Composer-in-Residence, Kevin Day. Day will begin his two-year residency this fall at the start of the 2019/2020 season with The Power of Nature on Sept. 14. His residency will continue through July 31, 2021.
The 23-year-old Arlington native graduated in May 2019 from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Instrumental Performance, where he studied euphonium, tuba and jazz piano. While completing his residency, Day will continue his education at the University of Georgia this fall, where he will pursue a Master of Music in Composition.
What was your reaction when you found out you would be MSO’s Composer-in-Residence?
I was very shocked, to say the least. I was still at TCU wrapping up my degree, and I get a call from Felix Torres and he told me. I was just like, ‘Oh. Wow. Okay!’ It was really shocking, but I told him I’m available and I would love to be a part of that.
What inspired you to study music in the first place?
I always knew I wanted to do music in some way, but I didn’t know what it was going to look like. What initially inspired me was my parents, because my parents are musicians. They were always involved in church and stuff, and I would go to their rehearsals and just be a part of that. That’s what my first connection with music was, my parents.
From that point, it just kind of grew from there; piano, drums, bass guitar, all these instruments just kind of came along the way. Once I started listening to more music and kind of experiencing what else is out there, I realized music is cool! I wanna do this in some way, shape, or form. I didn’t know that years later, that would turn into me being a composer.
How long have you been composing?
My dad used to be a hip-hop producer, so he showed me how to make tracks. That’s what I started doing at first, using FruityLoops and different sequencing programs and things like that from a very young age. Then I started writing classical–or kind of classical music–my freshman to sophomore year of high school. I got more inspired and sort of taught myself how to write music, because I didn’t have a composition teacher. When I finally got to TCU, I enrolled in composition lessons. Once I got with a teacher, that teacher really worked with me to help me find my voice and my sound.
It’s a very fun process for me just because I feel like I don’t have any limitations. I can write whatever I want to and just create. That’s always been me, I guess, a creative. I wanna build things, I wanna make things. Composition is tedious, but once it’s done, and the big pay-off happens where you hear it played, that just makes everything worth it.
What are you most excited about the residency?
I’m excited just to kind of collaborate with this group. Anytime I get to work with a group, it’s a great experience because it challenges me as a composer because I get to put my music in front of players and they give me feedback. It’s always a collaborative process, which I think makes me a better composer and a better musician. I’m most excited just to get to work with an orchestra, because not a lot of composers get that opportunity.
You’re stuck in an elevator indefinitely, but at least your favorite artist is playing on the speakers. Who are you listening to?
Oh gosh, let me look at my playlist. [About 20 seconds pass.] I think probably I would listen to Tchaikovsky. I love Tchaikovsky’s music, he’s a big influence on me as a composer. If I have to sit and listen to his symphonies and chamber works all day, I would be fine! That’s completely my world.
Any song recs?
I love his “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker. As far as his pieces, I think his Piano Concerto No. 1–love that piece–and also his Symphony No. 6.