50 Years of Alumni: Dave Michela

College(s)/University attended:
Folkwang Universitaet der Kuenste (Germany)
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)

What years were you in GTCYS?
1981-1986; graduated 1986

Why do you think GTCYS is important for students now?
As music and arts programs are being decimated in school systems, students are losing opportunities to learn life skills that go far beyond reading notes on a page. Orchestral studies teach teamwork, discipline, focus, attention to detail and commitment to shared success. I can trace many of my own proudest accomplishments and achievements directly to music studies.

How does music still play a part in your life?
Although I played horn in school, I picked up violin later and love to hack away at it on weekends. I also mix house music for fun, and I’m a regular at the MN Orchestra, SPCO, MN Opera, Schubert Club and EDM shows at the Armory. I still threaten to take my horn out of storage from time to time.

What is your favorite composer or piece of music?
It’s impossible to pick one. I’ve always had a soft spot for Shostakovich, whom I first learned about playing the 10th Symphony as a senior in GTCYS. The stories behind his life and that piece are fascinating. But my classical tastes run from Rameau to Thomas Ades. Then there’s 80’s pop, 90’s R&B, and a lot of other random stuff mixed in.

What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I recently took a trip to Costa Rica, where I hadn’t been since the GTCYS tour in 1985. Our hotel room in San Jose overlooked the Teatro Nacional, where I had been on stage playing Dvorak’s 8th 30-some years earlier.

What do you hope to see from GTCYS in the next 50 years?
GTCYS opened up a world of possibilities for me, exposing me to opportunities I didn’t know existed because I didn’t come from as privileged a background as many of my fellow members. I hope GTCYS will continue to reach into communities where expensive private schools and top-flight music programs are not the norm, introducing kids of all socioeconomic backgrounds to the power of quality musical education. GTCYS changed my life; my hope is that they will continue changing lives in ways that tomorrow’s youth can’t even imagine.

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