Hearing music that you created being performed by a full orchestra is every musician’s dream.
For Dennis Belisle, that dream became a reality when he received a research award and grant for his musical compositions. In addition to this, one of his works, a string quartet, was performed by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra on Nov. 15, which is a huge honor to any composer.
Belisle is a graduate student in the UT School of Music, and he names music as one of the most important things in his life. A music director and the founder of his original band, “apt407,” he felt it was only natural to start composing music.
“It was never the focus of my career,” Belisle said. “However, I love to create from scratch. I very much enjoy hearing a piece develop and come to life in my head. It’s pretty cool.”
Belisle originally applied for the grant to help his future endeavors in composition. However, he was quite shocked when he learned he received the 2019 Robert W. Patterson Memorial Research Award.
Belisle broke down what the application process looked like for him and the musical professor at UT who aided him, Dr. Andrew Sigler.
“I had to provide a 1,000-word personal statement as to why I was looking for funding,” Belisle said. “On top of that, both Dr. Andrew Sigler and I had to provide 250-word statements laying out specifics as to what the grant was going to be used for.”
Sigler is one of the professors for music composition in the School of Music. In 2017, he began mentoring Belisle in the Master of Music Composition program, helping him to achieve his musical goals.
Sigler explained why Belisle decided to apply for the grant.
“Dennis expressed an interest in having a graduate recital of his music, which is not a requirement for the degree,” Sigler said. “After some discussion we determined that a research grant award could provide the funding to support this endeavor.”
Composition can often be a time-consuming task, since composers have to put so much effort into creating each different part of a piece.
Belisle discussed the amount of time that was put into this composition project in particular.
“The piece I composed for my graduate recital took about eighteen months to make,” Belisle said.
However, Belisle also explained that sometimes, it takes him very little time to compose a piece.
“The choral piece I presented at my recital was made in one evening,” Belisle said. “Inspiration plays a big role in how long it takes me to compose a piece.”
Currently, Belisle is the music director for Rio Revolution, a church group with around 2,000 members, where he oversees five ministries.
In the future, Belisle hopes to compose film scores.
“This is something I can already do, for I already have the infrastructure in my home to do this type of work,” Belisle said. “It really excites me thinking about where I can go from here.”