Artist Spotlight: Kyle Traska

Sat., April 22, Lawrence sophomore Kyle Traska will be performing live on Wisconsin Public Radio after earning first-place honors in WPR’s Neale-Silva Concert of Young Musicians competition.
The award comes from a very tight field, with only five other finalists in the state. Traska’s winning performance came from three pieces that he transcribed for marimba from guitar solos.
“It was really cool for me because I was playing music that I wanted to play, as opposed to playing the pieces that everyone knows,” said Traska. “That was a big part in helping me express myself.”
“After sending it in, I was expecting something like, ‘Thanks, it was really nice, but try again,'” he continued.
“Then, when I got in, it was a good chance to focus on something I hadn’t really done much of with the marimba.”
A sophomore percussion performance major from Oregon, Wis., Traska credits diverse genres of music, especially Brazilian, for his love for music.
“Brazilian music is such a different concept than American music,” he said. “You can’t help but love it. They’ll sit out in the streets and play, rather than go to a performance hall. It’s really a part of life.”
Traska’s love of diverse kinds of music is what led him to Lawrence, where he found a connection with Associate Professor of Music Dane Richeson, who shared his affinity for exploring different types of music.
Once at Lawrence, Traska became extremely active in Conservatory ensembles.
The list of things he has been involved with ranges from the Lawrence University Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Vale Todo, Wind Ensemble and the Sambistas, which he says is the “main ensemble that I like to focus on.”
As far as plans for the future, Traska has traveling in mind for next winter. “I’m just going to take the term off, and go down to Brazil,” he said. “I’m going to march in Carnivale, the group of 200 people.”
After Lawrence, Traska says he plans on moving to California to finish studying, possibly go to grad school, and try to keep performing, as long as “live music is still around and we’re not all DJs.”
Traska’s WPR performance will be broadcast live as a part of “Sunday Afternoon Live from the Chazen” this Sun., April 23 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. from the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison.