Michael Schelle - Professor, Music
Professor of Music and Composer-in-Residence Michael Schelle
didn't realize music composition was his calling until his junior
year at Villanova University in Philadelphia. After years of piano
lessons and playing in rock bands, one night he took a date to a
concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene
Ormandy and, by the end of the evening, he found himself much more
interested in the music than the girl.
"They played Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Debussy's La Mer,
incredibly powerful and exciting music that was brand new to me,"
Schelle remembers. "And a living composer had written a new piece
for the orchestra, and he was there and he climbed up on stage
after the performance and I thought, 'Man, this is it!' This is
what I want to do!"
Until that point, Schelle, who had grown up in the shadows of New
York City, was always very involved in music but medicine appeared
to be his destiny. His mother was an R.N, both sisters became
nurses and his brother was a surgeon. Michael had gone to Villanova
to study medicine but quickly realized it wasn't for him and
changed his major to theatre, with a philosophy minor. With his
sights now set on playwriting, he also wrote the original
incidental music scores for some of Villanova's notorious avant
garde theatre productions, an eye-opening experience which finally
put him on the road to becoming a professional composer. Years
later, Schelle's music - which has been commissioned and performed
by over 300 major orchestras, university wind bands and
professional chamber ensembles across the US and abroad - continues
to mix the influences Jimi Hendrix with Stravinsky and J. S. Bach,
the expressive chromaticism of Wagner and Strauss, unexpected
theatrical elements, "And the big umbrella over everything is the
experimental aesthetic of the likes of Charles Ives, John Cage,
Samuel Beckett and post-Bop jazz pioneers like Lennie Tristano and
Ornette Coleman, which is: Who cares? If that's the thing we want
to do, that's what we're going to do. I love that 'devil-may-care',
'spit in your eye', 'break the rules' spirit. I love to try things.
Still today, every piece is like a kid in a candy store - sure,
let's try that".
Schelle has six cats, and two children: a daughter Katie, an
interior designer with degrees from Sacred Heart University and
Fairfield University (CT) and who works for a prestigious graphic
design / architecture firm in New Haven, CT ... and a son Patrick
who's a social worker in Manhattan and The Bronx (Patrick earned
his MSW graduate degree from the prestigious Silver School of
Social Work at New York University).
View Michael Schelle's campus