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  • Writer's pictureFilipe Leitão

My Journey of Composition and Teaching in the Last 5 Years

Updated: Mar 7

Today, I want to take you on a journey through the past five years of my creative endeavors. It's been an incredible period of growth, collaboration, and exploration, and I can't wait to share some of the highlights with you. From composing works for the stage to scoring films and diving into the world of online education, it's been a whirlwind of excitement and innovation.

My journey at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has been nothing short of amazing. One of the highlights of my time here has been the opportunity to collaborate with incredibly talented artists, both within and outside the music realm. Together, we've crafted unique experiences that have captivated audiences around the world.

One standout collaboration was String Samba, a fixed media work that pushes the boundaries of traditional string performance. Featuring three violins and a viola, the piece showcases complex, syncopated rhythmic figurations that push the strings to their limits. Inspired by Brazilian rhythms and dance, especially samba, String Samba is a vibrant and energetic composition. The violin and viola were performed and recorded by the talented Davis Brooks, whose skill and passion bring the music to life. The digital choreography, intricately crafted by Taylor Colimore, Tamara Denson, and Kate Sicchio, adds a visual element to the performance, enhancing the overall experience for the audience.

Another standout project was Inquietude, which seamlessly integrated violin performance, violin-generated sounds, and video to create a captivating and immersive experience. This piece uses a complex rhythmic figuration and a unique harmonic language, neither entirely tonal nor completely atonal, to evoke feelings of restlessness, impetus, and inquietude. The electronic part of the piece features real violin samples, creating an organic sound that blends seamlessly with the acoustic violin performance. Drawing influences from prog-rock, Inquietude reflects my unique voice, which stems from a blend of classical, popular, and film music. Seeing Inquietude come to life on stage and hearing it resonate with audiences in such a profound way has been an incredible experience. These collaborations have been a true testament to the power of creativity and teamwork.

In 2023, my composition Ocean Storm was performed by the VCU Flute Ensemble, conducted by Tabatha Easley. The piece for flute choir starts with a few notes, like a light rain, and gradually transforms into a driving rhythmic pattern, evoking an intense storm. Dissonant harmony and special techniques, such as key slaps and beatboxing sounds, are used to create a threatening atmosphere and unique textures.

In addition to my concert works, I've also had the opportunity to explore music for media. I've scored advertisements, documentaries, including the acclaimed documentary EU (ME) by Ludmila Dayer, which premiered in 2023. These projects have allowed me to blend my love for music with storytelling, creating emotional and impactful soundscapes that enhance the visual narrative.

In 2022, my score for the animation Grounded, by Thomas de Maleingreau, was performed by the VCU Symphony, synchronized with the film, providing a unique audiovisual experience. The film tells the heartwarming story of an old pilot who decides to teach his pet goose how to fly, and together they embark on his last great journey. The music was carefully crafted to reflect the moments of connection and adventure shared by the characters, capturing the essence of the film in an exciting and engaging way.

In recent years, I have had the privilege of arranging scores by the renowned LA-based composer Daniel Figueiredo. These arrangements have been included in prominent projects, such as the TV series Reis, allowing me to collaborate with his exceptional music and contribute to memorable audiovisual experiences.

But my journey doesn't stop there. I've also been deeply involved in shaping the next generation of musicians and composers. At VCU, I've developed new courses and played a key role in establishing the Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in media scoring, providing students with the tools and knowledge to succeed in the ever-evolving music industry.

In my quest to share knowledge and inspire others, I've embraced online education, creating content on YouTube and Instagram, and developing online courses in Portuguese. It's been incredibly rewarding to see the impact of these efforts, reaching students from Brazil and Portugal and receiving invitations to conduct workshops and clinics at prestigious institutions.

As I look ahead, I'm excited to continue pushing boundaries, both creatively and educationally. I aim to expand my educational reach, especially in Portuguese-speaking regions, and continue pursuing projects that challenge and inspire me. Through it all, my commitment to collaboration, innovation, and education remains steadfast, driving me forward on this musical journey.

So, that's a glimpse into the past five years of my creative journey. I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. Here's to many more years of music, creativity, and collaboration!


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