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Steven Trinkl: Notable Pursuits

May 11, 2009

Music student Steven Trinkl hopes one day to compose pieces for high school marching bands, wind ensembles and possibly for a record label or a popular band.

The Pennsylvania native is off to a good start through the ASU music program after putting together the spring Student Composition Recital and performing in it.

“I designed the posters for it, and working with Dr. (Stephen) Emmons, I was able to organize a few things,” Trinkl said. “It was a successful recital. There were 11 pieces performed with nine composers and musicians from all areas.”

“Steve has a bright future as a composer,” Emmons said, “and can write fine quality music in a variety of styles, both classical and popular. In addition to being a superb composer, he has a keen intellect and broad interests.”

One of Trinkl’s interests outside of music intersected with it while he was at the University of Maryland before transferring to ASU. “I took Chinese at Maryland and found the language and history very interesting,” Trinkl said. “I would like to go to China to sightsee, meet the people and eat the food. I would also like to go to Taiwan.”

He looped the Chinese culture in for the Student Composition Recital by writing and performing “Sun and Zhou Suite.” The piece drew from traditional Chinese and western music and a historical story of two ancient Chinese heroes who set out to unite their broken country, prevailing over great odds.

To become a successful composer, a musician also faces great odds and Trinkl prepared by learning a variety of musical instruments. Besides the traditional tenor slide trombone, he also plays the alto and bass trombones and is under the tutelage of Dr. Ed Surface, ASU’s low brass professor. He also plays the tuba, horn, oboe, clarinet, saxophone and cello.

Surface said that Trinkl is among the best music students he has seen go through the ASU program.

“He, like so many music students, is learning to temper his musical ideas and expressiveness into a more focused and directed manner,” Surface said. “Steve has a strong amount of creative ability exemplified through his compositions. I think that he has an abundant amount of talent which he has not yet discovered.”

Trinkl’s talent has been rewarded by induction into the Kappa Kappa Psi national honor band fraternity and the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity.

Surface said that along with composing and performing, Trinkl also arranges musical works for many of the Art and Music Department’s ensembles.

Trinkl is also working on a computer science minor, which comes in handy when he composes music using a keyboard attached to the computer.  The program interprets what he is playing and puts it up on the computer screen. He is also taking an introduction to game programming class.

“I’m hoping to get into the classes beyond that,” Trinkl said. “If for some reason music doesn’t work out for me, computer gaming is another field I would be interested in. I might go into both by writing music for video games.”

The two paths don’t diverge that much, he said.

“There is a musical syntax and a computer program syntax,” he said. “With a computer, you are typing in words and commands and you have to make sure the logic flows, and good music has a logical flow as well. It’s not just randomly thrown together. Music that has a structure to it is seen as more thoughtful music.”

“Music definitely has a mathematical aspect to it,” he added. “In computers and music, math is important for knowing what you are doing but it doesn’t dictate the end result.  It gives you formulas and vocabulary that you can use to make your own creation.”