A graduate of The Evergreen State College (BS, 2006, biochemistry emphasis), Erik Ibsen-Nowak’s relationship to music has always been part of his larger response to and quest for beauty in the broadest possible sense.
His early musical training initially followed a typical trajectory. Surrounded by music even before he was born, as a very young child he took part in Kindermusik classes, and then started formal musical instruction via saxophone studies with Tracy Knoop, touched early success as the first-place winner of concerto contests, as a guest on the radio program From the Top, and as the holder of a merit scholarship at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University, where he studied for one year. But then, the “something more” called, and Erik returned to the Pacific Northwest to pursue passions not exactly possible at a classical conservatory, achieving an AAS degree with certification as a commercial pilot with multiengine and instrument ratings, while also working as a licensed pyrotechnician for a fireworks company.
Nevertheless, music never ceased being a deeply essential part of his life. He came to know well and be mentored by the late George Shangrow, founder and director of Seattle Chamber Singers and Orchestra Seattle. After George’s untimely death, he sought out more training in the areas of music that would come to predominate in his life: conducting, film scoring and arranging, all the while hearing and sensing the colors and textures of music through his special gift of synesthesia.
In 2012 he took part in the Summer Intensive Program of the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program directed by two-time Emmy Award winning composer/arranger Hummie Mann. He is set to score two feature films this year that are currently in pre-production. Moreover, in 2014, Erik was admitted to be a participant in the Conductors Retreat in Medomak, Maine, founded and directed by conductor, conducting pedagogue and mentor Ken Kiesler. This extraordinary and intensely personal, spiritual experience (described powerfully by Ken Kiesler in this 8-minute video connects profoundly with what Erik is attempting to do with Luminosity, particularly in its mission to bring onboard, playing right alongside seasoned professional musicians, highly talented, creative, but above all young orchestra members.
Erik, like Ken Kiesler, is “committed to transforming the world through music.” As Kiesler put it, and as Erik would strongly agree, “music is the most extraordinary creation of an expression of the human spirit. Music is not intended to be a physical, practical exercise. It’s a spiritual practice.”