Mike Malstrom





Michael Malstrom is a full-time physician and part-time composer. He comes from a musical family; his mother is a pianist and an excellent accompanist, and all his siblings were involved in music. Mike started playing the viola in fourth grade through a public-school music program. Two years later he started taking private lessons from one of his neighbors. In a couple of years she referred him to the viola professor at a local college who Mike studied with for the next several years. He played with university level orchestras, chamber groups, and symphonies. Mike left music after university to pursue additional education as a medical doctor and subsequently as an eye surgeon. Over the past few years he has finally had time to return to music in the form of composition.

Enjoy his music at https://soundcloud.com/mike-malstrom




What does music mean to you personally?

Music is an integral part of who I am. Even though most of my time is engaged in other activities, it is one thing that permeates through each of them.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I think that music can be about fantasy but more often I think music is about showing a truth that is not able to be framed in any other language.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I am not a professional musician. As a physician (ophthalmologist), I find strong correlates between music and the practice of medicine. There are many different ways to frame a message to your audience (patients) and finding a way to connect with your audience is the goal.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about your future?

No, I think that there is still an audience to be tapped.

What do you envision the role of classical music to be in the 21 century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

Classical music has always had competition from alternate styles of music and I see it’s role as being unchanged- to reach into one’s soul and communicate with others the combination of classical music and differing types of media (such as movies) is not considerably different than incidental music for plays or opera for that matter.

When I say that classical music is searching for new ways or that the classical music is getting a new face, what would come to your mind?

I think classical music throughout the late 20th century ran into some of the same problems that medicine did- becoming too clinical and detached- the knowledge and the practice of medicine became so esoteric compared to a normal population that there was little in the way of meaningful communication which led to distrust and indifference on the part of the public. In a similar manner, classical music became so cerebral and caught up in theory that it became difficult to understand for most folks and they left for something much more accessible. I think that there is a swing in both medicine and music to move towards more accessible communication and bridging the years of disenfranchising of those not in the profession itself.

Do you think that the classical musician today needs to be more creative? What’s the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

Creativity can only exist when given at least some guidelines. Each generation of musicians has built upon prior ideas and when you look at individuals through each of the musical periods there are always some that are fantastically creative and push against current boundaries and norms to create something different. I believe that process is ongoing and that each of us finds ways to create or perform something new, if not just for ourselves in the moment of performance or creation.

Do you think we musicians can do something to attract young generation into the classical music concerts? How will you proceed?

Exposure and familiarity are what will help future generations come to classical music. The simplest think I can do at this point is foster a love of music in my children. I find that as I explain music to them and we listen together they begin to appreciate and ask for more of it.

Tell us about your creative process. Do you have your favorite piece (written by you) How did you start working on it?

I often start with a kernel of an idea or a small snippet that works in my head until I have to find a way for it to come out and find form. One of my favorite pieces is a suite for string quartet based on bedtime with my children; each of the 6 movements depicts something about bedtime from dusk to baths to prayers and dreams. As I look back on it there are flaws but they are the flaws that give it character.

We, Moving Classics TV, love the combination of classical music with different disciplines: music and painting, music and cinematography, music and digital art, music and poetry. What do you think about these combinations?

I think the marriage of music and other forms of artistic expression are fantastic- finding ways for people to experience ideas and emotions using as many tools as we have available now is fascinating and really exciting.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

I think finding some of the acknowledged classics ( they are classics for a reason) and using them as a starting point. It helps to have someone to explain the music to you prior to listening (if you can find someone to do that)

Now it is a common practice in the media to talk that the classical music is getting into the consumption business, do you agree? We are speaking about the supply and demand rules and how to sell your “product” in your case your compositions. How do you see it?

I have never sold any of my music and really make my music for me, so I still have the luxury of calling it art alone. For working musicians that is another story and yes there is business to be done and either you find a market that wants your product, or you make a product that the market wants (if you are really lucky they are one and the same).

Do you have expectations what regards your listeners, your audience?

I am under no illusions that I am the next Mozart or Beethoven and thus my expectations are humble. I would love to have my music played and listened to but I often think that is a reality that may not come to pass.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I recently finished a fantasy for viola and strings, and am currently working on a second string quartet.