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Volume 24, Number 7 — July 2017

Arts for Youth Spotlight

Bryant Denmark
Bryant Denmark

Bryant Denmark sees beauty in every

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | May 31, 2017

Bryant Denmark comes from a musical family. "I've been surrounded by music since the very beginning. I started violin when I was 5 years old at the Academy of Strings in Johnson City. Piano came a couple of years later, and I've picked up other instruments since then, such as voice and the oboe."

He says that voice is his favorite instrument. "Voice is the most intimate and beautiful instrument, because it's the only instrument that is literally a part of the human anatomy."

"My favorite thing about music is its ability to convey anything. I believe every emotion to be connected to some kind of music. My approach to music definitely has changed since the beginning. I used to be a purist — I would love what I loved and hate what I hated. However, to be a good musician, you really can't shut any music out. I love to write music, and a while back, I really started to experiment with things that "didn't belong.' That's when I started to realize there's beauty in every sound, and that every piece of music ever written was created for a reason. That reason can be found in the way a piece of music sounds.

"Music truly is love. You can never be a successful musician unless you absolutely love what you do and can't live without it. Music also means understanding. As a conductor, I will never choose a piece of music to interpret with a group of musicians unless I fully understand that piece of music. Most importantly, music is about communication. Music brings together people from all walks of life. I'm excited for the opportunity to have such a wide-reaching, positive impact on audiences and musicians everywhere," Bryant says.

Bryant serves as concertmaster in the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra. He started as a member of the Primo String Ensemble in fourth grade and joined the youth orchestra in sixth grade. "It was a great opportunity to collaborate with musicians from around the region, to perform with a full orchestra and perform additional repertoire that I otherwise would not have been able to do yet," he says.

He has been a member of the All-State Orchestra four years in a row. He's been a member of the All-East Choir and an All-State Choir qualifier for three years. He has also been part of the ACDA National High School Honor Choir. Last summer, he received a Fine Arts Award from Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Bryant says his experience at Interlochen was incredible. "It's really fantastic to be in an environment where all that matters is the arts. I attended performances every day, worked with fabulous individuals to make myself a better musician and learned more about where I should turn next. I made lots of close friends that I still keep in touch with that are spread all over the country (and some out of the country)."

Near the beginning of his six weeks at Interlochen, he learned about Mannes School of Music, his latest achievement. "I was introduced to Mannes by alumna JoAnn Falletta, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Virginia Symphony, whom I met at Interlochen. She encouraged me to partake in the three-round audition process against graduate and post-graduate candidates for the program. The first round (around 30 candidates) was preliminary testing on music theory, orchestral literature, score reading and more. Once I had progressed into round two, I conducted two pianists playing excerpts from Mozart's 38th Symphony and Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring.'

"In the final round (which was now down to six candidates), I conducted the full orchestra at Mannes, playing the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and the second movement of Dvorak's Ninth Symphony. The audition process itself was exhilarating, but the announcement a month later was even more so. What I did not realize at the time is that I will be the second person since 1999 to secure a spot in the program as a college freshman. I will also be the only undergraduate conducting major next year. The orchestral conducting program is a four-year program, where I will learn not only the actual art of conducting but also the management and communications aspects of being a conductor," he says.

Before he leaves for school in the fall, local music lovers have two opportunities to see him conduct. Friday July 28, at 7:30 p.m., he conducts an orchestra concert featuring Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Kingsport, Tennessee. Saturday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m., he conducts a joint orchestra and choir concert featuring Maurice Duruflé's "Requiem" at First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport, Tennessee. Both of these concerts feature musicians from around the region, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Bryant's mother, Patty Denmark, is the founder and director of Cantemus Women's Choir. His father, Ken Denmark, sings and plays horn, and his brother is a pianist and cellist. Bryant is 18 and is a recent graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport, Tennessee.

Topics: Music