(Photo Courtesy of Deanne Jones)
Myler as Sharpless, the American Consul to Japan, in WSU’s recent production of “Madam Butterfly.” (Photo Courtesy of Deanne Jones)

How many undergraduate music students can claim they’ve been winning national composition competitions since their early teens? Derek Myler, a senior in Weber State University’s vocal program, is doing just that.

He routinely premiers new, original compositions with the WSU combined Chamber and Concert choirs and the WSU Symphonic Orchestra. In addition, he’s taken home awards from many prestigious competitions for his work. On March 25, students will have the opportunity to see Myler perform his senior recital, in which he will premiere a new, original work with the help of several other WSU music students.

“It’s been a really tremendous experience to work with somebody with the gifts and talents that Derek has,” Karen Bruestle, head of the voice and opera program and Myler’s private voice teacher, said. “He really encompasses the whole realm of musicianship and that, as his teacher, has been really fun.”

Myler just finished participating in WSU’s production of “Madam Butterfly,” as Sharpless, the American consul in Nagasaki, Japan. Bruestle explained that it’s  rare to find individuals with skill sets similar to Myler’s.

“It’s rare to find a student that not only possesses a really beautiful voice and is a very engaged, active performer, but is also a dynamic pianist and composer,” Bruestle said. “He’s a multifaceted musician and that’s pretty rare to have all of those elements in a student.”

Bruestle encouraged all students, especially non-music students, to come to Myler’s recital. Unlike many other student recitals, Bruestle said, Myler’s is a lecture recital, meaning he will stop and talk with the audience about the music between sets.

“It’s really very novel what he’s doing and I’m hoping it will set a standard for other students and encourage them to do the same thing in their recitals,” Bruestle said. “As an audience member, I always appreciate when the performer takes an interest in me and tells me about the music and how they feel about it.”

Catie Omer, a recent WSU graduate in vocal pedagogy, echoed Bruestle’s sentiments, noting Myler’s genius is accompanied by a humble attitude.

“Derek is a genius and he’s one of the most humble people about it,” Omer said. “He would never put himself out there claiming to be what he really is, and we used to joke that he’ll be the next Bach, but really he’s the next Charles Ives and his music is just brilliant.”

Omer said one of her favorite pieces of Myler’s is an emotional, yet beautiful, choral piece called “Christmas 1942, Auschwitz.”

“You can tell he’s very emotional about his music but also very analytical as well,” Omer said. “He doesn’t just let the music get away from him. He keeps it grounded and he has a purpose for everything that he’s doing.”

Omer noted that students who attend Myler’s recital can expect to hear different and interesting classical music.

“He always does music that’s not the traditional, standard that you hear at student recitals. He always does really interesting things you’ve never heard before,” Omer said.

Caleb Jardine, a friend of Myler’s and fellow student in the voice program, said he admires that ability.

“Derek’s music is hard to describe. It’s beautiful and deep,” Jardine said. “Derek is one of the most passionate people about music that I’ve ever met. He’s a genius.”

Myler’s senior recital will be March 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Garrison Choral room in the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing arts and admission is free.

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