A talented and aspiring flute performer, CMPI senior Miguel Rodriguez started his musical journey in fifth grade. After trying out numerous instruments, he felt a strong connection with the flute. Although he also plays the saxophone in his own jazz quartet, which has several concerts lined up this summer in St. Charles and the Chicagoland area.
Miguel has placed in to the top band of the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra (EYSO) since his sophomore year. In addition to his private teacher, Scott Metlicka, and the current conductor of EYSO, Matthew Sheppard, Miguel was greatly inspired by Randall Swiggam, a former conductor of EYSO. Miguel said that Swiggam, with his concise and methodical teaching techniques, completely changed the way he thought about music and taught him how to explore music history.
Some highlights from Miguel’s high school career include performing in the 98.7 WFMT Introductions in the Community program, being selected as a soloist to perform with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, performing with his quintet at PianoForte as well as on the radio, and performing at the jazz showcase in Chicago. Miguel noted that performing on Introductions was a very monumental experience for him and his family. Regarding the Chicago jazz showcase, he noted that “just being there and standing where so many professionals had played was a great feeling.”
Miguel experienced a “night and day difference” in his playing after joining CMPI. He said it made him take music more seriously and motivated him to practice and record more often. Miguel’s mom, Adriana, added that CMPI helped the family by providing financial support and student mentoring. She said that CMPI gave Miguel performance opportunities during the pandemic which included the WFMT radio performance, which was a great experience for the family.
Miguel will be attending Northwestern University this fall to study under Professor John Thorne. “The first time I heard about John Thorne was during the DePaul Concerto Competition. He gave some feedback which was direct, very methodical and the nature of his comments sprung an interest in me. The initial trial lesson I took with Professor Thorne completely changed the way I thought about tone and air flow,” said Miguel, who had similar experiences during his subsequent lessons with the professor. While at college, he plans to continue his jazz studies under Sharel Cassity, who is on faculty at DePaul University.
He attributes his smooth college audition process to CMPI which enabled him to prepare thoroughly. During his preparation, Miguel applied a practice technique that he learned from CSO Principal Horn David Cooper during a CMPI masterclass. “I learned the technical things at least a month and half before the audition and spent the rest of the time recording my own playing and listening back. Recording is critical, as there are things we don’t hear otherwise in our own playing.”
Miguel advises his fellow musicians to take lessons with the professors they plan to study with in order to establish a rapport with them as well as to demonstrate a vested interest. He added, “when you are in an audition, they are not expecting perfection. One needs to be curious, able to learn things quickly, and show potential.”
Gratitude is the key takeaway for Miguel coming out of the pandemic. “It’s so important to take the time to reflect on each performance and opportunity you had, to be grateful about it, that is what I learned coming out of the pandemic. It is important to take a step back and take a break. It is super healthy to do so.”
“Of Our New Day Begun” by Omar Thomas and On the Waterfront Suite by Leonard Bernstein are two of Miguel’s favorite pieces to listen to these days. He enjoys the jazz influence in Thomas’ music as well as his interesting use of harmonics, lydian chords and locrian modes. Miguel is also a big fan of flutists Jean Pierre-Rampal, Sir James Galway, Jasmine Choi, Matthew Dufour, and Nestor Torres.
As Miguel steps into college life, he hopes to someday perform at prestigious venues like Chicago’s Symphony Center as well as New York’s Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall. He is also passionate about music education and greatly values the impact music has on young minds. CMPI wishes this exceptionally talented and multifaceted young musician the very best!
TOP: CMPI Senior Flute Fellow Miguel Rodriguez