Michael Palmese, a 2008 graduate of Lakeside High School, started playing the bass clarinet when he was a sixth-grader at Lakeside Middle School.
"My instructor had us write down our top three instruments," said Palmese, the son of Edward and Sherry Palmese of Martinez. "Mine were the bassoon, alto sax and bass clarinet."
His middle-school band instructor had him blow into the mouthpiece of each instrument he listed and decided that the bass clarinet was best suited for Palmese.
"I considered it to be a cool-looking instrument," Palmese said. "It was kind of an obscure instrument that many folks didn't know much about. Not so much now, though."
Palmese has made his mark on music not just by playing, but also by composing. He started his first wind ensemble composition in July, finishing almost six months later.
Subsequent compositions took less time, from a month to a few weeks.
"Michael is one of those students who seems to fly under the radar," said Jim Tau, the band instructor for Lakeside High School. "Michael is one of the most humble students I have taught and never wants to be in the limelight.
"He has arranged music for trumpet ensemble, saxophone ensemble and wind ensemble."
At Lakeside, Palmese played the bass and contra bass clarinet in the school's band. He also played the baritone in the marching and competition bands.
His love of writing music will take Palmese to either the University of Georgia or Georgia Southern University in the fall to pursue a degree in music education.
From there, he hopes to enroll in a composition program and earn a doctorate.
"I envision Michael standing in front of a high school band, conducting clinics and camps and composing wind ensemble music," Tau said.
"Hopefully, his name will be as commonplace in wind ensemble literature as Alfred Reed, James Swearingen and David Holsinger."
Reed, now deceased, composed more than 200 works. Swearingen and Holsinger are both actively involved in music composition -- Swearingen at Ohio State University and Holsinger at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn.
Palmese composes his pieces on a computer but has taken an advanced placement class in music theory, where the compositions were done on paper.
He said he has no other passions that match music.
"Nothing really like this comes to mind," the 18-year-old said.
"He is a young man who pours his soul into his compositions, and I believe that is what makes his writing special," Tau said.
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