Who am I?

R Michael Wahlquist HeadshotR. Michael Wahlquist (b. June 2, 1985 Orem, Utah) is an American composer, musician and educator.

Recent Achievements
Michael is the creator of a successful Kickstarter.com project, Karelian Soundscapes. The project raised funds in January 2013 and sent him to Russia for two months in Summer 2013 to collect recordings and compose an original album of the same name. This will be released Spring 2014 along with another debut album, Map of Trees. A tour-de-force for piano, Map of Trees features Michael as composer and improviser in a concert-length blend of jazz, structured improvisation, prepared piano, and live electronics. As an avid collaborator, Michael works regularly with musicians, artists and dancers. Most recently he has created the piece subtidal in collaboration with Carley Conder of the CONDER/dance company, which was performed both nights of the Breaking Ground dance festival in Tempe, Arizona, January 2014.

As a composer, Michael strives to craft a balance between complexity and accessibility, the beauty of the individual moment and the intricacy of formal structures. Dichotomies abound in his music - monolith and labyrinth, complete and incomplete, the ancient and the digital, the city and the jungle, the divine and the sensual. Melodic intimacy is contrasted with swirling masses of sound; improvisation coexists with rigorous systems.

Michael’s influences include Russian music and culture, avant-garde classical music, obscure science fiction, eclectic modern art and guilty-pleasure hipster indie music. An active Latter-day Saint, Michael’s music is infused with a vibrant and idiosyncratic spirituality particularly notable in a growing body of hymns and in the titles and inspirations of many instrumental works.

Raised in rural towns in Utah (Orem, Parowan, Vernal) and Idaho (Pocatello, Rexburg), composer R. Michael Wahlquist was exposed to two of his most important influences - modern music and Russian culture - thanks to the advent of home Internet. He has continued to study music and Russian culture in college. From 2004-2006 he served as an LDS missionary in the Russia St. Petersburg Mission, including time in the cities of St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, Petrozavodsk and Pskov. Education has been an important priority - earning a Bachelor of Musical Arts degree from BYU-Idaho (2009) in Jazz Studies (Piano) with a minor in Russian; and a Master of Music degree from BYU (2013) in composition. Fluent in Russian as a second language, his professional ties and involvement in Russian culture were strengthened by the recent Karelian Soundscapes project and ongoing research into Russian composers and musical traditions.

Currently living in Mesa, Arizona, Michael is earning a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at Arizona State University. He has worked as a theory/dictation teaching assistant since 2010 and is an active piano teacher. Michael’s wife Qait is a professional harpist, together they have two children, Ender and Scarlett.

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