Artist Spotlight: Paul Feyertag

This week’s Artist Spotlight features Paul Feyertag, a Conservatory senior receiving notable recognition outside the Lawrence bubble for his compositions. To make his talents more known here on campus, we asked Paul a few questionsWhere are you from and what is your major?

I’m from New Berlin, Wis. and I’m majoring in music theory and composition.

How did you first get involved with composing music?

I started by writing jazz lead sheets in high school, but I only started composing seriously near the beginning of my sophomore year here.

We hear that you were accepted to a prestigious summer program. What can you tell us about that?

I was accepted to the summer institute at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany, which will involve about 17 days of master classes, concerts and lectures in August. When applying, I definitely did not expect anything, especially since, as far as I know, most of the other students are in their 30s and have advanced degrees, but I got in, and I’ll definitely learn a lot from my more experienced counterparts.

What other artists or things do you look to for inspiration for your compositions?

I mean, I have favorite artists, like Milton Babbit, Brian Ferneyhough, John Zorn and Luigi Nono, all of whom have certainly influenced me to an extent, but I also get a lot of things from random outside sources. Once, while writing a piece, I heard some crickets outside chirping these weird glissandi, and I thought, “Wow! That will be perfect!”

How can you best describe what kind of music you like to compose?

It changes from piece to piece, but usually, I view composition as a chance to explore latent characteristics within the musical experience. Lately, I’ve been focusing on synestesia and other more subjective aspects that surround our experience of art. Also, I LOVE tangles! I mean, I really like to structure music in a seemingly messy way, so that it takes on the guise of having no internal order, with each bit clinging on in a very tenuous way.

What are you trying to accomplish with your art?

I really have no idea, but right now, I think that the biggest part of this for me is people; my hope is that somewhere along the line of writing, rehearsing and getting pieces performed, some sort of ephemeral community is formed that gives the music a particular meaning beyond the notes on the page. Because of this, individual commissions are my favorite projects, because then I get to work intensively with one person and “tailor” the piece to fit them, in the process capturing some of their own idiosyncrasies in the process.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m not exactly sure yet, but they definitely involve graduating within five years.