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Aaron Clarke, 2017 Featured Graduate

Aaron Clarke

Aaron Clarke aided USM Associate Professor and Resident Composer Dan Sonenberg in his opera, "The Summer King," which premiered April 29th in Pittsburgh.

Degree/s: Bachelor of Music in Composition; minor in Political Science

Place of birth: Colebrook, NH

Hometown: Rockland, ME

What led you to pursue your education at USM? Of the several schools I applied to, USM was the most helpful and warm during the application and audition process. As a matter of fact, one of the adjudicators (Dan Sonenberg) of my audition for the School of Music ended up being my faculty advisor, composition professor, and friend. Having Dan in the room was arguably the selling point for me because, as the head of the composition department, he was able to confidently answer a lot of the questions I had.

Have you had an experience at USM that you feel changed your life or your view of the world? I would say that the biggest life-changing experience for me has been assisting Dan Sonenberg twice in preparation for performances of his opera, "The Summer King." The better part of my freshman year was spent proofreading his scores for the concert premiere in Portland in May, 2014. After he received word that Pittsburgh Opera Company was picking up "The Summer King" for its staged world premiere, we began work on revisions, which I assisted with essentially in real-time. As he would revise a scene, he would pass it on to me for proofreading and formatting.

What are your future plans? Being interested in both music and politics is not always the most practical or logical combination, but I intend to intertwine these two fields as best as I can. In an ideal world, I would like to lead a musical group which performs the music I write (some of which is politically oriented), and I would also engage in the political realm in likely a journalistic fashion. I might consider running for public office, but I'm fairly ambivalent about the territory that comes with that.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank? I'd like to thank my mom and dad, my best friend Cole and my girlfriend Ali, the rest of my family and friends, and all of the fantastic professors I've had during my time at USM, notably Dan Sonenberg, Barry Saunders, and Ron Schmidt, for their vast tutelage and patience with my questions.

To see all of our 2017 Featured Graduate profiles, click here.