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Happy to Be Here: An opportunity for Iggy

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Last fall I wrote about Walter “Iggy” Mokriski, a 15-year-old sophomore at South Hunterdon High School in Lambertville, N.J. An ordinary teenager with braces, wearing a marching band T-shirt at first glance, Iggy is remarkable.
He is the composer who won first place in the Hunterdon Young Composer Contest in 2020 and had his music premiered by the Hunterdon Symphony Orchestra in November.
Along with Beethoven’s “Pastoral” and Stravinski’s Pulcinella Suite, the first movement of W.I. Mokriski’s Symphony No. 4, “Triumfante” is on the program.
Now Iggy has been accepted to the Interlochen Academy for the Arts in Michigan. “Going to Interlochen Arts Academy is a dream for Iggy,” his mother, Sara Bizarro, wrote in an email message this week. “He has been focused and worked hard on his music and has had amazing community and family support, but he needs help for this next very important step of his life.”
He was granted a merit scholarship and financial aid, but there is still tuition left, a daunting prospect, with an older brother, “a super math whiz,” according to Iggy, applying to colleges.” She is an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Delaware Valley University and Rowan College.
“For this reason, we started a Go Fund Me campaign to help Iggy get to Interlochen,” his mother wrote.
Iggy was born in Portugal (his mother is Portuguese) and came to the United States when he was 3 years old. He started taking piano lessons as a 4year-old, but never took it seriously until he studied at Canal Music Studios in Lambertville.
Under guidance of his music teacher, Gabe Stephens, he plays saxophone in the marching band, oboe in the concert band, and piano in the jazz band. But he is most interested in composition and he is a composer rather than a performer. At Stephens’ suggestion, he took classes with Lambertville composer Robert Maggio, who is a professor in the Department of Music Theory, History, and Composition at West Chester Univesity’s Wells School of Music.
Iggy also is intriqued with film and theater. He’s been in children’s plays at Music Mountain Theatre in Lambertville, an organization that regularly produces young people’s shows. Iggy has played many roles there and loved participating in them, his mother said. Iggy was also in the cast of the adult musical “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” he has made short films, and composed music for them. In a perfect future, he envisions himself combining film and composition as his career.
Iggy lives in Stockton Borough, next to the elementary school that closed its doors to students at the end of the 2018 school year. He attended that school until “it had only about 12 kids in the whole school.”

He lived in New York and attended the East Village Community School before moving to New Jersey. He studied “little kid piano” with his brother, Leo, for a few years but later moved on to jazz pianist Neil Podgorski, well known in the jazz world and a resident of Pipersville.
Maggio, Iggy said last fall, “helped guide me a lot. He came to meet me at a football game.”
And South Hunterdon Band Director Stephens, Iggy said, was “super good, super encouraging.”
Iggy has been writing music in his free time using Sibelius software. The website promises, “From couch to coffeeshop, work on scores anywhere with your favorite Sibelius tools at your fingertips – literally. ”
“It’s like video games,” Iggy said. Altogether he has written seven piano sonatas and four symphonies. He prefers the Romantic style of classical composers. He listens to all kinds of music – Elton John is one of his favorites. “His music is almost in classical style,” Iggy said.
The 4th symphony, Iggy reflected, was his best piece yet. “Each piece evolves and as I move forward, there’s much more out there.”
In November, Iggy wondered what would happen next. Tenth grader Iggy hadn’t thought much about higher education then but he thought a liberal arts college with a music program would suit him.
The future is unfolding now as the invitation to Interlochen takes shape.
The opportunity to help Iggy is a Go Fund Me fundraiser. It’s located at https://www.gofundme.com/iggyatinterlochen and the email associated with it is iggyatinterlochen@gmail.com.

 


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