Composer Michael Markowski (b. 1986) claims that he is “fully qualified to watch movies and cartoons” on the basis of his bachelors degree in film from Arizona State University. Despite this humility regarding his musical training (and glossing over the performance of his joyRIDE at Carnegie Hall when he was a high school senior, and his Frank Ticheli composition prize for Shadow Rituals the following year) , he is gaining attention as a composer of unique and sophisticated works for wind band, film, and other media. His works are being performed across the United States, leading to an ever-growing list of commissions for new works.
Forever Summer came to life in 2014 as an orchestra piece, commissioned by the French Woods Festival for the Performing Arts; Brian Worsdale, Artistic Director and Conductor. It was transcribed by the composer for band in 2016. He waxes rhapsodic in this very personal program note:
The summer between my seventh and eighth grade years, I spent about two weeks away from home at a summer music camp at Northern Arizona University. Not only was this the first time I’d ever been away from my parents for any extended period of time, but it was the first time I’d gotten a taste of what studying music could look like when I got to college. It was the first time I’d been able to take elective music classes like music history and music appreciation in addition to performing in the jazz and concert bands. In those empty music halls was also where I got my first kiss.
Since those early years, I’ve been a part of a number of different summer arts programs, and with each one, I’ve made new, incredibly talented friends and colleagues. Perhaps there’s something magical about this — about seeing a group of friends so intimately for just a few shorts weeks and then not seeing them again until the next summer. It becomes almost a ritual for some of us — a club where we can go to catch up with friends and pick up where we left off. We make music, we make theatre, we make art — all at an accelerated pace. We come together and become even closer because there’s often so much to do and never enough time. And yet, these summers are often over in a blink of an eye and we find ourselves back in our “real worlds.” It’s easy to wish these moments would never end.
Forever Summer was originally composed for full orchestra to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts Camp and the 75th birthday of its founder, Ron Schaefer, who has spent the greater part of his “summer years” building the camp to what it is today.
Listen to the Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne Wind Ensemble in live performance: