Michael Anthony Iorio is a composer and musician who believes in expressivity through musical creations. Growing up as a percussionist, Michael has had an innate awareness for pulse and groove. When composing, his thoughts tend to be influenced by a particular rhythmic motif or “feel” as he’d call it behind a drum set. Throughout his studies Michael has found great interest in exploring timbre and resonates well with composers typically considered impressionistic. In his own words, “I appreciate looking to outside sources such as landscape and mythology for inspiration, but I do not intend on creating novelty works. As a composer, I believe there is value in the presumptions a title can insist.“ Michael’s influences vary greatly, and his multi-genre background are an asset to his compositions. In the field of concert music, he finds inspiration from the works of Ravel, Debussy, Dvorak, and Chopin. Likewise, Michael takes influence from various artists in genres such as Reggae, Ska, Funk, Punk and EDM.
Michael’s compositions reflect most accurately on the impact music itself has had on him. At the age of 12 he began playing drum set. His older brother was gifted a guitar and as younger brothers do, he grasped onto this love for music. With his brother to thank for the building blocks and foundation of the skills he developed, this love gave light to passion, and with passion came education. Beginning his undergraduate studies at Mansfield University, Michael understood that as a drum set player, he was a bit behind the ball. It was here that his understanding of theory began to evolve. Immersing himself in theory manuals he had a realization. He had always had a love for the concept of creation. After surrounding himself in the masterworks cited within those manuals, his exposure to orchestral and band music grew and Michael has since been collecting scores, theory books, orchestration manuals, and composer biographies. It was at this point that Michael understood, composition is what suited him.
At Mansfield University, Michael received his B.A. studying Percussion Performance under Dr. Adam Brennan and Professor Conrad Alex. This aspect of Michael’s education greatly inspires his works to date. In his eyes, nothing is more inspiring for a composer than watching as their thoughts, once transcribed through lines and dots on a page, are once more transformed into something audible. During this time, as a composition student of Dr. Andrew Walters, Michael had hands on experience teaching percussionists of all playing levels as well. Between the teaching experience, having readily available percussionists, and studying under Dr. Brennan, a percussion composer, Michael learned to compose with purpose and for performance. In his first year of undergraduate studies, Michael published his first piece, “Grasshopper,” for solo marimba via Permus Publications.
Here in his undergraduate studies is where Michael began to develop certain techniques that became paramount in his composition style. Given his background, rhythm was his first tool as a creator. Using rhythm to create thematic and motivic material has been a great factor in Michael’s writing. As his education continued, Michael became intrigued with counterpoint as a leading component of musical composition. His curiosity in counterpoint allowed him to introduce polyphony into his writing while still maintaining his attachment to rhythm.
Initially studying theory and counterpoint manuals, Michael’s attention shifted to fuges and imitative works. While pursuing a master’s in composition at The University of Massachusetts Amherst, he began to focus on score studying and using the score as a manual itself. Studying under Dr. Salvatore Macchia, Michael was overwhelmed with the genius works of Bartov, Stravinsky, Ravel, Debussy, Schoenberg, and many others. Michael still finds these inspirational and has said “Through the genius works of these composers, I will learn every time I open the score.”
Although his passion lies in composing for the concert hall, Michael is engaged in a variety of music groups and currently is nurturing the future of music by teaching at the Elementary level. Writing for various instruments and styles has become one of Michael’s niches. While singing and playing bass in an original touring Reggae/Ska group, Michael performs with regional orchestras, various mixed chamber ensembles, several fusion music groups, and has taken his composition into the electronic music field through a unique blend of Lo-Fi and Dubstep. From a drum set player, to an orchestral percussionist, music educator, touring vocalist, and composer, Michael Anthony Iorio’s purpose is to share his heart through music.