Former Indian Hill student Alexander Brako Sayde, of Carlisle, will cap his senior year at Chicago’s Northwestern University by conducting a chamber opera of his original composition to Edith Wharton’s novel “Ethan Frome” on May 9 and 10 at the college. Alexander plans to complete a major in history at the Weinberg School, and a minor in music composition at Beinen Music School while at Northwestern.
He began studying at Indian Hill Music School in Littleton with an early childhood class at the age of 5. He tried out the clarinet and cello before focusing on piano and percussion at the age of 9. He concluded his studies at Indian Hill with a recital when he graduated high school as a piano student of Michelle Kelley and a percussion student of Abe Finch. Kelley, a former Northwestern graduate, wrote Alexander a recommendation to her alma mater. Finch helped Alexander with his focus on the marimba and vibraphone, and encouraged him to write and perform his compositions at music school recitals. He composed his first orchestral piece for the Concord-Carlisle High School Band, “With Wind at Their Backs,” which was performed by the school’s concert band under the direction of former band leader Al Dentino in June, 2009.
“Presenting ‘Ethan Frome’ on the stage began as a dream of mine in high school,” said Sayde. In her award-winning book about Wharton, biographer Hermione Lee describes how the writer herself wanted to see the book performed as a play. Sayde’s musical composition sports a chamber orchestra, and features three soloists in the roles: “Ethan Frome” by lyric baritone Sam Garcia (Bienen/WCAS ’17), “Mattie Silver” by mezzo-soprano Stephanie Feigenbaum (Bienen, master’s student), and “Zenobia Frome” by Alana Grossma, soprano (Bienen, ’14).
Alexander credits his compositional work with enabling him to obtain an interview at Google where he will intern this summer at the Goopleplex in Menlo Park. He recalls how Google rejected his first application two years ago. Last year he flopped his resume around, featuring his “hobby” of music composition at the top of the application. He also decided to feature the Frome work as it was taking up so much of his free time. Sayde subsequently got an interview, and then spent Fall, 2013 as an intern at Google’s facility in Ann Arbor. He previously completed two summer internships at Wolters Klover, one in the Chicago area, and the other in Manhattan. Sayde looks to work after graduation, and eventually pursue a master’s in business. Music will undoubtedly remain a time-consuming but preferred hobby for him.