Up the Octave

Senior Jonah Midtgard talks about the highlights of his musical career at Troy High School and what’s left on his path.

Ashley Park, Body Copy Editor

On Dec. 13, the Troy High School Symphony Orchestra premiered The American Symphony Op. 3 composed by musician and Troy High School student, Jonah Midtgard, for the annual Holiday Concert. Just over a month later, String Quartet No. 2, also composed by Midtgard, premiered at the 2023 Young Composers of Michigan Concert at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Midtgard talks about how these achievements played a part in pushing him to pursue his music career. 

“It was mostly a combination of support with my teacher Mrs. Stuart [Troy High School Orchestra Director] and the overall support I have been getting from my classmates.” He continues, “It’s really been pushing me to pursue music and pursue my dream.” 

The process leading up to the premieres of his pieces began nearly two years ago when he first started sharing his pieces with Alan Macnair, the former Troy High School Orchestra Director. 

“In tenth grade, I emailed Mr. Macnair some of the pieces that I wrote, and I was like ‘Hey, check these out!’ and he did.” He shares. Macnair listened to his pieces, which encouraged Midtgard to continue sharing music with the class. 

Midtgard tried the same with Stuart when he sent her The American Symphony Op. 3., leading to its eventual performance.

“I was expecting a ‘Yeah, we can just try it,’ but then she sent me the email, ‘Oh yeah, we can program it to the concert.’ ” He states. “I remember screaming. I was really happy. That was definitely a huge honor, I was beyond thankful for the orchestra who was talented enough to perform my music, and for Mrs. Stuart who was able to program the music and take out a piece that she could have programmed for mine.”

Unlike The American Symphony Op. 3, String Quartet No. 2 had a rushed start to its success. Midtgard had been approached on the day of the due date for the Young Composers of Michigan Concert submissions. Nevertheless, his piece made it to Grand Rapids and debuted on Jan. 21.

While Midtgard’s biggest achievements were through his classical music, he also composes film scores. In the summer of 2022, he wrote music for the film “It’ll Always Be Us” directed by senior Tridib Chakraborty.

“It was about the end of last year, when my friend Tridib Chakraborty, approached me on creating a film score for his upcoming movie.” He said. “I was a little skeptical at first because I wasn’t sure of what the time commitment was going to be. ”

Midtgard soon came to the realization that this would be a fun experience as well as one that he could get paid for. However, this project came with many challenges as he expanded his music to film scores. He said it was a “completely different mindset” because he had to “make sure the dialogue had to line up with the music.” 

Midtgard hopes to continue to write film scores as well as write classical music as he attends  Michigan State University as a composition major in the fall. As he leaves Troy High School, he gives advice to his fellow composers.

“Even if you think your music sounds bad, there’s always going to be someone out there who thinks it’s good. You may have to do a little bit of digging like I had to do for Troy High, but I eventually found that people do enjoy your music, and you may not like it, but other people will 100% love it, so don’t give up!”