Manvel educator has original work performed at Amarillo Symphony

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Austin Brake, music composer and assistant band director at Manvel Junior High, had one of his original compositions performed at the Amarillo Symphony recently.

Beyond the Event Horizon was selected as part of the West Texas A&M University Composer’s Initiative. Each year a piece by a student composer or alumnus of the WTAMU Composition Studio is selected to perform during the Amarillo Symphony’s concert season.

Brake, 25, graduated summa cum laude from WTAMU with a Bachelor of Music degree in Education and Composition in 2013.

Beyond the Event Horizon was commissioned originally as a piece for horn choir by his college horn professor, Guglielmo Manfredi.

“Even though I was writing the piece for a chamber ensemble, throughout the entire compositional process I could not shake the feeling that this piece was destined to have a much bigger sound,” Brake said.

He re-orchestrated the piece preserving and elaborating all of the original material.

This was not the first of his compositional work that was performed.

In 2014, his A Modal Portrait, a work for band, was selected as a winner of the Hong Kong Band Directors Association Composition Contest. It was then performed there by the Hong Kong Band Directors Wind Orchestra.

He has also been commissioned to write for WTAMU School of Music chamber ensembles including Horn, Brass, and Trombone Choirs and Trumpet ensemble.

“Since I’ve started teaching, I haven’t had much time to compose. I did finish three pieces this year, a choir piece over spring break, a soprano solo and a concert band piece over the summer,” Brake said.

Brake, a Friendswood resident, teaches Beginner Low Brass, Trumpet, Oboe and Saxophone classes and Concert Band at MJHS. His Concert Band recently earned Superior Ratings at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) Concert and Sight-Reading Contest.

“I try to encourage my students to develop and maintain a lifelong relationship with music. I often tell my students that my hope is that they will continue to play their instruments and listen to classical music into adulthood even if they do not pursue music as a career,” Brake said.

Previously, he was the Director of Bands at Austin STEM Magnet Middle School in Galveston ISD. Each summer since 2010 he has worked as Music Theory Instructor at West Texas A&M University Band Camp in Canyon.

He plans to attend graduate school to pursue a Masters and then Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition. He hopes to teach Music Theory and Composition at the university level. Until then, he will continue to compose and serve as a role model for his students.

“In many ways a composition is like a photograph of the composer’s life during the time he spent composing it. It captures not only the meaning that the composer wishes to convey, but also the means by which he conveys it,” Brake said.

Brake’s compositions have also provided him a direction in his life.

“It has inspired me to continue this journey and to never cease learning about music or life,” Brake said.

Story by Karolyn Gephart

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