Music Professor Michael Wittgraf experiments with a modern approach to creating music


Kate Menzies

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Music Professor Michael Wittgraf experiments with a modern approach to creating music

Step off the beaten musical path and you'll find Michael Wittgraf producing a musical composition without a single instrument, just Wii remotes and a laptop.

This is electronic music and it's what sets Wittgraf apart from the other music professors at the University of North Dakota.

Considered an innovator in the field, Wittgraf loves to experiment with different music software and equipment to provide audiences with a truly unique experience.

No wonder he was chosen as the first music professor at UND to be named the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor, UND's highest faculty honor.

Using both fixed media and live electronics, Wittgraf loves to interact with an audience and leave them speechless.

While performing with the Red River Trio on tour this summer, Wittgraf was able to give audiences across China and Japan a taste of his eccentric musical muse.

Wittgraf's music has made its way across the globe and has been showcased in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Aside from electronic music, Wittgraf plays bassoon, piano, organ and electric bass. His composed pieces span multiple genres, including solo, chamber, orchestral, band, choral and of course electronic.

Wittgraf earned his master's in music theory and composition from the University of Minnesota and his doctorate in music composition from Northwestern University.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of his education background is his B.A. degree in mathematics from Carleton College.

"This degree has enabled me to better understand and operate computers and music processing software," said Wittgraf.

That degree has come in handy considering about four years ago Wittgraf decided to compose mostly electronic music.

"I had an aptitude for math, but a passion for music," said Wittgraf.

He chose the right field, as he is now chair of the UND Music Department.

But for Wittgraf one of the most rewarding experiences is when he can sit back and watch students perform and find their own musical niches.

"I've been brought to tears more than once by student performances," said Wittgraf.

No matter the genre, Wittgraf hopes to help musicians find their own paths and musical interests.

Kate Menzies

University & Public Affairs student writer

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