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Composer Charles Stacy III sets sights on cinema

Anna Stacy

Age: 16

Hometown: Bayville, N.Y.

Think of: A cross between film score composer extraordinaire John Williams and the late György Ligeti, composer of avant-garde 20th-century classical music. “Ligeti, he did really crazy and cool stuff. Even if my music doesn’t always sound like it, I try to take from his weird emotion he put into his pieces. And if you listen to any of my works, you’re going to hear some kind of quote from a score Williams has done.”

What caught our eye: A prolific output of instrumental chamber music and choral works. Stacy, who will be a senior at Phillips Academy Andover in the fall, is head of the student colloquium for composition at New England Conservatory, and a number of his pieces — including a 70-minute song cycle, based on poet A.E. Housman’s 1896 collection “A Shropshire Lad,” for tenor and piano — have been performed live. A large sampling of his works can be found on his SoundCloud page: www.soundcloud.com/cbs3. Stacy also plays saxophone, piano, and violin, and is co-head of his school’s chamber choir.

Light bulb moment: Attending the young artists composition program at Boston University Tanglewood Institute in the summer of 2013. “We were beginning rehearsals for our final compositions, and you had to find your own players, arrange your own rehearsals, and do everything on your own. It was the first time I had to completely rely on myself to arrange a piece. It was harder than I thought, but it was also extremely fulfilling.”


Biggest thrill: The first time one his compositions was performed by a large ensemble. The Children’s Orchestra Society, based in New York, played his piece “Milky Way Symphony” in June 2012. “I look back on the piece now and think, ‘Wow, I was so bad at composing, I had no idea what orchestration was,’ but the greatest thrill was hearing it played by a live orchestra — I was so shocked at how full it sounded.”


Inspired by: Along with Williams and Ligeti, Stacy cites Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich, Gustav Mahler, Krzysztof Penderecki, Richard Strauss, and Vaughan Williams as influences.

Aspires to: Be a film composer. “One of the reasons why I like film music is that I really like music that tells a story. I think when paired with motion picture, music is explicitly about the story. If you hear a film score, you can imagine it separated from the film, but if you watch a film without music, it loses its soul.”

For good luck: Always carries a Moleskin notebook to jot down ideas when they strike.

What people should know: Stacy’s next major project, a choral work to be performed by Boston vocal ensemble Renaissance Men in the November, includes material from an unusual source: the archives of the Boston Globe. Titled “Five Clippings From 1965,” the piece pulls material found in the newspaper that year, including ones focusing on major events like the assassination of Malcolm X and the Vietnam War’s Operation Rolling Thunder. Stacy says the piece, commissioned to do by his Phillips Academy music instructor Eric Christopher Perry (who is also the artistic director of Renaissance Men), is his biggest undertaking yet. “Eric and I were talking about how important the piece was for the RenMen program, and that was kind of a reality check about how big of an opportunity this is.’’


Coming soon: Along with “Five Clippings From 1965,” Stacy is working on a score to accompany a documentary about ballet dancer Ian Archer-Watters.

Eryn Carlson can be reached at eryn.carlson@globe.com.