A conversation with Michael Fili

Michael Fili is a Foggy Bottom-based composer who wrote "A Good Play" for our Sixth Anniversary concert series. By day, he works at The Kennedy Center, and is also a staff singer for St. Paul’s K Street and the Thomas Circle Singers.

His Six Degree Singers connection:
I met Katelyn Aungst [our assistant artistic director] while I was in grad school at Carnegie Mellon. 

How did you choose to write your piece in the way you did?
I always like to have an idea of what the commissioner has in mind before I start working on a new piece. When Rachel [Carlson] and I first started discussing the work, she expressed an interest in a piece that is upbeat. I decided to look to poems depicting childhood adventures to create a piece that is light-hearted and playful.

What is your favorite thing about 'A Good Play'?
I am fascinated with the idea of immersing the audience in sound — having the source of the sound come to the audience from different directions. This piece is intended to be performed by two choirs, one in front of the audience and one behind. For most of the piece the two choirs sing independently, each depicting different aspects of the story. They almost take on unique characters. At the end of the piece the two choirs sing together in rather complex counterpoint creating an experience in which the audience is literally surrounded by music. It should be a wonderful experience for the audience that enhances the story being told in the poetry.

What are you most looking forward to about hearing the Six Degree Singers perform your piece?
I look forward to hearing how the effect I describe above actually sounds!

What musical challenges do you still hope to take on?
I am currently working on a chamber opera in one act, but I hope to eventually write a full-length opera and have it staged. As a composer who sings (and who is married to a singer!), I believe opera is the culmination of musical and theatrical art, and I’m excited to try my hand at it!