Some of his first musical influences came from movie soundtracks of the 1980’s, such as “The NeverEnding Story” (music by “Klaus Doldinger”) and “Willow” (music by “James Horner”); which he connected with on a deep emotional level. Michael’s love for the cinema continued throughout his youth and into adulthood, providing a continuous source of musical inspiration. Many of the great film composers like “John Williams,” “James Horner,” “Ennio Morricone,” “Jerry Goldsmith” and “Michael Nyman,” remain as Michael’s favorite and most influential artists. As a New York native, there were many trips to the famous Broadway theatre scene, the music of which made a considerable impact upon the youth.
Michael experienced many of his thoughts and ideas along with music, and internalizing his emotions musically became a natural ability. In the third grade Michael decided to join his school’s orchestra and took up the viola (“the closest instrument to the human voice”) as his first instrument. Throughout his school years, Michael’s involvement in music increased exponentially; eventually involving his participation in the high school choir, chamber singers, vocal jazz ensemble, chamber orchestra and his continued participation playing the viola for the school orchestra. Privileged to be a part of an extraordinarily strong school music program, there is no doubt that these formative years instilled in Michael a great overall respect and love for music. To this day he cites his early teachers and musical experiences in school as the number one reason why he chose to become a composer.
Being constantly surrounded by other musicians, it wasn’t long before Michael began to admire the piano, and those who could play it well. When he was approximately ten years old, Michael began teaching himself to play the piano completely “by ear,” meaning that he taught himself to play without the aid of sheet music and using only his natural ability to play the instrument. Private lessons quickly followed, at which point Michael impressed his new teacher by walking into his first piano lesson already playing quite well. Encouraged by his natural abilities, Michael’s teacher decided to teach a more advanced regimen and to instill a love for the classics (“Beethoven,” “Debussy,” “Chopin” & “Satie”), while still allowing Michael to pursue and play more popular music forms.
Practice routines often included an eclectic mix of classical, contemporary instrumental, jazz, blues, rock and pop music. His supportive parents purchased him a baby grand “Kawai” piano for practice and learning. Michael continued with his private piano lessons for six more years, until finally graduating high school. In the early 1990’s Michael was fortunate enough to discover a group of pioneering artists whom would ultimately pave the way to his path in contemporary instrumental music. Those artists were none other than “Yanni,” “Enya,” “Suzanne Ciani” and “David Lanz.” Many of these artists he discovered through printed music catalogs which were very popular in those days, including the “BMG,” “Narada” and “Windham Hill Records” catalogs.
It was a chance encounter however, with Yanni’s now famous “Live at the Acropolis” concert which originally aired over “PBS” that had the greatest impact and influence. Michael said, “By the time I first heard Yanni, I was already listening to many other contemporary instrumentalists, but no other artist made such a powerful impact upon me as Yanni did. If I had to choose any true ‘influence’ on my own music today, well, Yanni would definitely be it!” Speaking further about his musical influences and inspirations Michael said, “Behind every aspiring musician, artist and talent is a profound love for the craft they now call their own. No artist exists in a vacuum, and I know had it not been for a true love of music and the countless artists that have come before me; that I would not be able to call myself a pianist and composer today.
The music I was exposed to while growing up... in the movies, on the radio, at the theatre, on compact discs and cassette tapes, at school, by my teachers, my friends and family; I owe my love of music and my success as a musician to these influential people and artists.” In the fall of 1997 Michael attended college at the “University of Maryland at College Park.” He had been accepted into a special arts program, the “College Park Scholars,” where he both lived with and learned besides other gifted artists and musicians. The first steps in Michael’s journey into music composition took place in his freshman year dorm, where there was a “Steinway” grand piano sitting down in the basement. In “midnight sessions” sitting alone at that piano, Michael began to experiment with writing and arranging original music.
His first original solo piano composition, entitled “Imzadi” (meaning “Beloved”), was a haunting and bitter-sweet contemporary sounding ballade. Encouraged by the success of that piece, Michael continued on to write more music, eventually creating another five compositions by the end of 1999. He self-published a demo album entitled “Light in the Darkness” that same year on the Maryland campus, which was received very positively by both students and faculty. An article by the University of Maryland newspaper aptly headlined “Move Over, Yanni,” painted an accurate portrait of the ambitious and eager fledgling composer. Over the next few years Michael continued to work slowly and steadily on his music, while simultaneously pursuing a career in web development and graphic design.
With strong interests in both science and technology, he applied this to his music by building a home-based music studio and by starting to learn the basic principles and methodologies of music production. By the year 2005 what had began as a modest six-track demo had now turned into a fully realized album of twelve original solo piano compositions. This album, entitled “Until Tomorrow Comes” (from a self-quote, “Only thoughts of the good times we shared, until tomorrow comes...”), represented all of Michael’s earliest writings from 1997 through the year 2005. This album, presented literally in the order he wrote the songs, chronicled Michael’s long journey into the world of music composition.
The decision was made to ultimately produce the album professionally and to publish it worldwide, but not before it became evident this would be a double release. By the year 2008 Michael had already composed another twelve pieces, which were to become his second album, entitled “A Still Motion.” This album was a more ambitious work of art that musically and philosophically explored what he called “The Big Paradox,” a hidden world beneath the surface of everyday life where you can discover meaningful movement and rhythms, the beauty in opposites and contradictions, and often-unrecognized connections between people. With two albums of music composed and ready-to-go, an ambitious and daunting effort began in early 2008 to record, produce and manufacture both of these albums simultaneously. Already an established entrepreneur and independent business owner, Michael wanted to apply his varied skills in web development, graphic design and internet publishing to his music. He formed a private record label and production company named “Still Motion Productions” to publish, distribute and market his music under.
Michael then teamed up with numerous talented people in the music and recording industry to help produce, design and manufacture his two albums. Of particular note are his extremely high-quality CD packages, which contain a beautiful montage of scenic photography at historic locations (such as the national historic site “Hoboken Terminal” in Hoboken, NJ) and self-penned poetry for each individual song; all meant to create a cohesive visual and artistic experience to enhance, accompany and bring greater meaning to the music. Michael also worked with an industry veteran to transcribe and engrave impeccable sheet music for all his songs, and to publish fully illustrated sheet music books with the same beautiful artwork seen inside his albums. During the same time frame Michael also put his background in web development to work, by assembling a small team to design and develop his official website, now located at www.MichaelSamson.com. After nearly two years of intense and dedicated work, Michael realized his lifelong goal of publishing his music professionally for the world to hear.
In August of 2009 he made his professional debut with the double release of “Until Tomorrow Comes” and “A Still Motion,” coupled with the grand opening of MichaelSamson.com. Soon thereafter a major marketing and publicity campaign was launched to get the word out to critics, radio programmers and the public alike. In September of 2009, after only one month following his debut, Michael’s second album “A Still Motion” entered the international radio airplay charts (“Zone Music Reporter / ZMR”) for the contemporary instrumental and new age genres in the #9 spot. This was truly a remarkable achievement both for a solo piano album and for a relatively new artist.
By October of that year “A Still Motion” had climbed to the #6 spot worldwide, and then remained in the Top 100 chart for a consecutive six months afterwards. Michael’s music was a clear favorite among radio programmers and critics, and received high praise from many ends of the music industry. In the fall and winter months of 2009 Michael embarked on his first live tour, performing at a variety of smaller venues. Michael’s passionate and intense performances earned the admiration and loyalty of many new fans and followers. Throughout the 2010 year Michael Samson’s music had spread throughout most parts of the world, and was receiving a wonderfully positive response.
Many of Michael’s new fans wrote in personally to thank him for the music and to speak of how it had inspired them. Energized by all the positive feedback and momentum of his new music career, Michael continued onwards writing new music and dedicated himself fully to the completion of his next solo piano album, entitled “Rapture;” which he had began working on in early 2009. In a two year long writing process Michael had reached a new level of sophistication with his music, achieving an unprecedented balance of both artistry and technique. Conceptually “Rapture” is a more introspective work, attempting to reach the listener on a more spiritual and personal level.
The album attempts to capture the very essence of an emotion or state of being, and is therefore more primal and direct in the way that it communicates with the listener. Speaking about his writing process Michael said, “When I write music, it is a process of introspective exploration and self-discovery. In some ways it can seem as if the music is writing itself. I think that as I write, the music speaks to me, and I simply speak back. It’s much like a conversation that helps me to explore what I may be feeling at that particular moment in time.
As the music takes shape, new feelings emerge, ideas surface, and a personal journey beings to develop.” In a relatively short amount of time Michael Samson has achieved a great many things and certainly has much to be proud of. But for a true artist like this, these achievements mark only the beginning of what is to be a life-long journey and exploration of music. Michael is driven beyond most other artists to continue the act of creation and to inspire through the “universal language” of music. There is no doubt that Michael Samson’s music shall continue to evolve and grow with time; and for those of us willing to journey with him, there lies a path to self-discovery and introspective exploration that can only be found within great music. PLEASE SUPPORT MICHAEL SAMSON’S MUSIC AT: WWW.MICHAELSAMSON.COM Read more on Last.fm.
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