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Musicfest to present Young Composer winner’s composition at Feb. 23 concert


SCOTTSDALE – Arizona Musicfest announced on Jan. 25 that Arizona native Michael Markowski is the winner of the Young Composer’s Fanfare Competition. Markowski’s composition ‘Joyride’ will be performed by the Musicfest orchestra at their Feb. 23 concert at the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church, 25150 N Pima Rd., in Scottsdale.

Markowski’s ‘Joyride’ was selected from four highly competitive submissions and will be performed during the opening concert of Orchestra Week for Arizona Musicfest’s 25th Anniversary.

Markowski attended Dobson High School approximately 10 years ago, where he first started composing ‘Joyride.’ His high school band had been invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and Markowski’s band director “proposed the idea of writing a short celebratory work to commemorate the occasion of their appearance in the famed hall,” Markowski said. “As I remember it, he said, ‘It would be cool to blend something joyful, something traditional – say, Beethoven's Ode To Joy – with something more contemporary – like John Adams' Short Ride in a Fast Machine.' His idea excited me so much that within ten days, I had completed the first draft of this classical mash-up – a two-and-a-half minute concert opener that dressed Beethoven's famous melody in a tie-dye blazer of rhythm and texture that nods humbly to Adams," said the winning composer.

For the Musicfest competition, Markowski reimagined the piece for a full symphony orchestra and submitted the transcription to the Arizona Musicfest’s competition.  

“I took the original piece and painted it with a different palette to utilize the instruments of the classical orchestra, such as adding strings parts that my original didn't have. It's going to be a thrill to hear it performed by the Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra. They have such a reputation as being one of the best in the country,” Markowski said.

“Michael's piece is stunning, with a jubilant, youthful spirit, beautifully blended with his talent for creating imagery with sound. It will be an honor to perform this on Feb. 23, with our Festival Orchestra,” said Robert Moody, Artistic Director.

The Arizona Musicfest Festival Orchestra features musicians from the nation's finest orchestras, including players from the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and more. 

Markowski has been making a name for himself as a leading composer in the U.S, and was recently named one of ASCAP's Film & TV "Composers to Watch." His work can also be heard in short musicals, like Conan: The Musical which aired in a bit on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and in an original musical celebrating the life of Judy Garland (Judy: The Musical), which starred actress and singer Paige O'Hara (best known for playing Belle in Disney's Beauty and the Beast). Most recently, Markowski was invited to join the 2015 BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop as a composer-lyricist.

Arizona Musicfest is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. Musicfest will be bringing famed violinist Joshua Bell and jazz artist Al Jarreau to headline the 6-week-long music event. The Festival runs through March 11, with concerts held in North Scottsdale and Phoenix venues.  

 To purchase tickets for Arizona Musicfest performances, call (480) 840-0457 or go online to