I am thrilled to share the following conversation with very talented Catholic musician and composer David Isaac. Readers with children who possess an interest in music, please take note of David’s very generous offer at the end of this interview!
Q: Please briefly introduce yourself and share a little bit about your musical background.
I am a composer who believes that music can change the world. I write music based upon story and themes of Christianity and ancient myths.
My background? Growing up, I was an odd kid. I listened mostly to classical music and orchestral soundtracks. In high school, I even wrote a paper on the “Mozart effect.” After attending music school, I began writing on my own, and now I am a freelance composer, orchestrator, and music copyist.
Q: How did you begin composing?
I began taking piano lessons again at age 15, and I immediately started to write. With my allowance, I bought inexpensive music notation software. I began to learn as much as I could by reading scores, listening to music, and checking out books from the university’s Fine Arts Library.
One of the biggest challenges for a composer is to prove himself to all sorts of people. Conductors, teachers, musicians, other composers, and audiences. Sometimes these people can be harsh.
On the other hand, I have received great encouragement: standing ovations and have met audience members and musicians who really enjoy my music and help me out in many ways.
When you don’t come from a family of musicians, you have to go into the industry from the bottom up. You prove yourself by writing great pieces of music.
Q: How does your faith background impact upon the music you create?
In every way.
I write music that inspires people. A lot of my music doesn’t have lyrics, but I draw upon uplifting poetry and story as a source of inspiration.
Writing classical music is the best ability we have to describe the everlasting, the great beyond. And to describe God.
Q: Who are some of your musical influences and how have they had an impact on your work?
Any sincere composers, who have something important to say. Some of these are Samuel Barber, John Williams, James Newton Howard, (American), Sergei Rachmaninoff, Dimitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinski (Russian), Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel (French). Actually the list is too long.
Q: Who do you listen to for fun?
Maybe I’m not good at separating work from play, but the above composers are same ones that I listen to for fun. My iPod has 45 days worth of classical music, and I am always adding more. Also, I enjoy classical concerts when my music isn’t being played. When my music isn’t being played, I can sit back and relax, because I’m not on the job!
Q: What are your goals for your compositions?
To move at least one person in the audience in a permanent and profound way.
Q: Where can listeners learn more about your music?
My album Dreaming is piano solo music inspired by poetry from Shelley, Field, Kilmer, D.H. Lawrence, and Solomon’s Song of Songs. It is available at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/isaacryder.
Q: Are there any additional comments you’d like to share with our readers?
Catholics moms, get your children into classical music. You can do this in a several ways:
1. Instrumental or vocal lessons. (This is the best.)
2. Expose them to excellent recordings of the best classical musicians of our time: like Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang. If you are curious about who is good, Google “grammy nominations classical.”
3. Soundtrack music can be an intro to classical music, especially for boys who enjoy movies and games. Composers like John Williams, Howard Shore, Michael Giacchino, and Dario Marianelli are better than Danny Elfman, Brian Tyler, and Hans Zimmer. The last three have more “sound design” and less real music.
Classical music can open up a whole new world of experience for all. It is a tremendous comfort in times of need and a tremendous blessing in times of joy.
If anyone has a child that is interested in writing music, I would be happy to help. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are interested in getting involved in my music, you can email the same address.