SPOTLIGHT ON EYSO ALUMNI ETHAN T. PARCELL
Ethan T. Parcell is a musician, artist, composer, and teacher based in Chicago, IL. He is in his fifth year as EYSO’s Composer-In-Residence, and his latest work, When My Buddy’s Burdens Get Done (Two-step and Misstep),
will receive its premiere this Sunday in a side-by-side performance by Youth Symphony and Primo string players. Other recent works include The New County Choruses,
an opera recorded by Focus Group, LLC, and released last month; and a collaborative composition project that Ethan wrote and performed with the students of EYSO’s 2020 Summer Chamber Music Camp.
Ethan remembers his experience in the percussion sections of Philharmonia and Youth Symphony as happy and transformative times in his musical journey. “For all the jokes to be made about counting rests, it gives you a lot of time to soak in the rest of the music,” he says. Listening critically to how great composers wrote and orchestrated (“What’s the difference between first and fourth horns? How are chords voiced across the woodwind section?”) made a lasting impact on the budding composer, who now recommends orchestral percussion playing as a key opportunity for his own composition students.
Former Artistic Director Randy Swiggum was an early champion of Ethan’s music, arranging for his first fully composed woodwind quintet to be performed on an EYSO chamber music concert during Ethan’s senior year of high school. “I barely remember what that piece sounds like, but what’s really important is that it felt very legitimizing, and it felt like permission to treat composing as my craft,” he recalls. Ethan now strives to pay that feeling forward by writing music that “lets people be themselves, especially people learning how to play instruments”—much of his work, outside of opera, is written for young people. “It just comes alive in their hands—[students] have so many more ideas than you can imagine when you first put a piece of paper in front of them.”
Ethan holds a B.M. in Music Composition from Boston Conservatory. To see more of his work (music, writing, and drawings), visit his website, ethantparcell.info.
Tune in this Sunday, March 14 at 7:00 pm to hear When My Buddy’s Burdens Get Done (Two-step and Misstep),
streaming live at EYSO.org/concert.
For video clips from this Alumni Spotlight interview where Ethan discusses his new piece, writing for EYSO, his EYSO student days, and more, check out this YouTube playlist.
- Article was written by Membership Coordinator and Music Librarian Emily Krasinski