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Derek Bermel's "Murmurations" set for St. Paul Chamber Orchestra / Minnesota Public Radio

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Even with the wealth of influences available today, composer Derek Bermel boasts an impressive list of inspirations he's learned about first hand. From classical music to eastern European folk music, West African drumming to big band and even hip hop, Derek Bermel brings together a wealth of experience and curiosity that has made him one of the most celebrated modern composers connecting with audiences around the world. "I gravitated towards whatever my ear told me to move towards," Bermel says. "I just tried to embrace all different types of music - not only just listening to it, but getting into it and learning about the complexity of it because every type of music has its own different kind of complexity."

And on top of that, he's an accomplished and sought-after clarinetist - both writing for his instrument and performing the works of others. Interestingly, Bermel's career as a clarinetist started more or less by accident. "I was just handed a clarinet by my band teacher at school," he recalls. "The band teacher needed more clarinet players. … It's very mundane, but that's how I started the clarinet."

Derek Bermel's "Murmurations" will be played by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra in a series of performances beginning Friday, Jan. 22, at the Ordway Concert Hall. In addition, Bermel will be Steve Seel's guest for the next Music In The Making, this time at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall in St. Paul, on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Before Wednesday's event, Seel and Bermel sat down for a conversation about Bermel's life and career so far. You can listen to their conversation by clicking the audio player above.

READ Minneapolis Star Tribune REVIEW