The Water Phoenix Premieres in Los Angeles
Just weeks after the abridged version of Maffe's critically-acclaimed, The Water Phoenix, was performed and recorded by the Orlando Philharmonic, Dr. Dane Teter and the El Camino College Symphony premiered the full version of the work.
Maffe originally wrote the tone poem while studying music theory and composition at El Camino College in January. This is Maffe's first premiere in Los Angeles, California.
The Water Phoenix Shines at the YCC Composium
The National Young Composers Challenge Competition put on a marvelous event in their 2015 Composium. Maffe, along with six other talented young composers had their work performed and recorded by members of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Christopher Wilkins) at the Walt Disney Theater in Orlando, Florida. 'Phoenix' was abridged to a duration of five minutes because of contest guidelines but the full version will be premiered in just a few weeks.
Maffe had previously entered the competition in 2011 ("Alien Armada"), 2012 ("October's Gift"), and 2014 ("Cajolery of the Forest") before finally taking home the trophy in 2015.
The Water Phoenix Wins National Competition
Maffe's newest piece for symphony orchestra has won a national competition—the Young Composers Challenge (YCC), to be exact.
The Water Phoenix paints the picture of a mythical phoenix, which ascends from the ocean abyss, and narrates its heroic clash with a malicious tempest storm. The tone poem is full of imagination and sweeping melodies. It brings both radiant orchestration and the energy of a film score.
In addition to a $1,000 cash prize, 'Phoenix' will receive a performance and professional recording by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in October at the YCC Composium in Orlando, Florida.
Maffe to Attend Biola University for Bachelors in Composition
Sterling Maffe has been accepted into the Biola University Conservatory of Music and will begin attending this fall in pursuit of a bachelors degree in composition and a minor in biblical and theological studies.
After attending an alumni pops concert, wherein his mother was playing flute, Maffe met with Dr. Robert Denham, the chair of the composition department with the benign intentions of score study and an impromptu lesson. Two and a half hours later both parties were sold on Maffe enrolling for immediate attendance. Maffe will receive nearly a full-ride scholarship and will graduate in the Spring of 2019.
Biola (Biblical Institute of Los Angeles) is a private Christian university which aims to supply students with a foundation of theological thought and superior vocational training, equipping men and women in mind and character to impact the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.
Across the Ivories Released
A new album of solo piano music has just been released worldwide. Across the Ivories features 45 minutes of original compositions performed by Maffe.
There are nine different pieces included in this compilation including Maffe's first piece for solo piano (eighth composition overall), "Ivories." "Halloween Dance," one of his most popular little tunes is also included as well as "Conspiracy on the Canvas" (about a painting which comes alive to tell a dark truth about history), Maffe's first extended piano improvisation to be released. The last track is the only piece to feature strings. "Soft Wind and Silver Mirrors" is an enduring composition which bookends the album with a conclusion as soft and satisfying as its title.
"Carpe Diem" and "Armistice" Double Premiere
With Maffe's high school graduation just days away, what better way to finish out than with a concert. This particular concert featured two different pieces written by Maffe—the first, a piece for unaccompanied choir titled "Carpe Diem" which is about making the most of life without taking it too seriously. Maffe wrote the piece under the pseudonym, 'Robert Coleman' and secretly attended rehearsals to hear the true opinions of his classmates on his first choral work.
The second piece, "Armistice" was commissioned by the Palmer High School Symphonic Band earlier that year. The band's only request was that the piece not be a march...so Maffe wrote a march. The good nature of this defiance ended up winning the band over and they excitedly performed the premiere of the march under Maffe's baton.
'Cajolery' on the Largest Stage in the State
The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts is the gateway to all mainstream touring acts who come to the remote state, but this time it was a local act which stole the show. The Anchorage Civic Orchestra premiered "Cajolery of the Forest," for the first time as a featured piece in its all-American concert on November 22 with Maffe conducting.
Maffe's piece is a tone poem—a retelling of the fall of man (Genesis 3), but without the fruit. A man finds himself in a serene forest surrounded by beauty but tormented by a solitary tree which calls to him. He battles the temptation but finally touches it and the short satisfaction quickly diverges to pain and loud noises like a trumpet throw the man to the ground. Then a light comes and brings peace to the man. The piece was written in tandem with a poem narrating the story ("Cajolery of the Tree").
Mike Dunham of the Anchorage Daily News reviews the performance:
"Cajolery" is a well-wrought tone poem evoking the northern woods. It mixes the mysterious lightness of Alan Hovhaness and the calculated lushness of a movie score with an excellent and stirring -- though perhaps insufficiently developed -- song theme that keeps sticking in my head. There was a standing ovation and shouts of approval for the composer at the end of the piece."
Listen to "Cajolery of the Forest" here.
Artwork by Julia Wadell
Sinfonietta for Essence Premieres
Maffe conducted the premiere of his niece's dedication piece on Sunday.
"I grew up listening to film scores, and they became the soundtrack of my childhood," Maffe says, "I thought: 'how great would it be if I could provide that for [Essence], but with music that was written specifically for her?'"
There are three movements in the 'little symphony'. The first accepts the mischief which is certainly to come with the escapades of childhood, the second movement illuminates her brilliance and free spirit, and the final movement sings of her beauty and undying love.
"Alien Armada" Wins International NASA Art Competition
The first accolade of Maffe's young career was delivered on a surprising scale as he wins the international Humans in Space Youth Art Competition for his composition of "Alien Armada."
Out of hundreds of aspiring composers, Maffe's piece was evocative enough to the judges to earn the first place honors.
'Armada' is Maffe's ninth composition. Last year (3/8/12), it was premiered in a symphonic band arrangement under Maffe's baton at Colony High School.
Maffe's First Commission a 'Revelation'
A few months after receiving the request to arrange "Alien Armada" for Colony High School's performance, Maffe was put in contact with Gleo Huyck, the director of the Matanuska-Susitna Concert Band. After a few successful meetings between the two, Huyck commissioned Maffe to write a new piece for his band to play, Maffe's first commission. The result was Maffe's symphonic suite, "Revelation," based on the book of the Bible with the same name.
The piece had two movements—the first, "Attack and Armageddon" was well-conceived but naively executed by the inexperienced composer and was unable to be performed; but the second movement, an emotional fanfare which illustrates Christ returning in the clouds, was just simple and powerful enough to carry the weight of the commission.
Maffe Conducts First Concert Performance
The first concert of the budding composer, Sterling Maffe, took place on Thursday. The composer conducted the Colony High School Symphonic Band in the premiere of his ninth composition, "Alien Armada."
Jamin Burton, director of instrumental music at Colony High School had been meeting regularly with Maffe, and upon listening to a copy of Planet X decided that the young artist was worth investing in. Burton provided Maffe with resources in learning notation, orchestration, and conducting, playing a key role in the development of Maffe's composition foundation.
Planet X Released
A collection of the first 14 of Sterling Maffe's compositions has been released worldwide. Maffe began composing in November of 2010 and decided that by his fifteenth birthday he wanted to have composed 14 pieces of music (one for each year of his life). The tracks are as follows: "X," "Blizzard," "The Beginning," "Stranded," "Covenant," "The Dream," "Sky Chase," "Ivories," "Alien Armada," "Redemption," "Fire and Brimstone," "Victory," "Three Days Remain," and "Fourteen Years."
Maffe produced the album on the mobile app, "Xewton Music Studio."
EDIT: This album has since been discontinued.
The "X" Factor
12/5/10 (written 7/15/19)
One day, while browsing through his iPod library, Sterling Maffe noticed that there were not songs that started with the letter 'X'. Maffe had a newfound interest in composing, so he decided to write a piece that would fix his problem.
At 9:37 AM on December 5, 2010, after several days of slaving away, Maffe (14-years old) finished his first composition simply titled "X." That's when the door to the wondrous world of music was opened, and Maffe started down the path toward a career in composition.