Music found me when I was around nine. I don’t come from a family of musicians, but music gave me a voice, a purpose, and eventually a community. This is why I’ve never wanted to do anything else with my life other than be involved with music in some way—every way. These last two words are the reason many of us become composers, we love being involved in many sides of music-making. For me this has meant playing piano and various wind instruments, collaborating with inspiring artists both seasoned and emerging, teaching and learning from diverse and passionate students, and of course writing a lot of notes. From the early days of tricking my neighborhood piano teacher into believing that I was reading music, to day one as a music major at Lane Community College, to my doctoral hooding eleven years after that, I’ve been able to develop my skills by attending some incredible music schools and learn from the perfect lineup of teachers to help me turn all of this into a career.

Presently, I am a few years out of school working on a consistent lineup of commissioned concert works, teaching traditional music classes as a faculty member at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, establishing a grassroots troupe of outspoken teacher-artist-activists called Trade Winds Ensemble, working on a major critical edition of George Gershwin’s music at the University of Michigan, and teaching knitting and crochet lessons on weekends at a beautiful family-owned yarn shop in Ann Arbor. The above activities enable me to exercise my passion for teaching, creativity, community building, service, and promoting the vitality of the arts—all by doing what brings me joy.

Photo by Luis Escareño

Photo by Luis Escareño

Professional Bio

Brandon Scott Rumsey is a composer, bassoonist, and teacher based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Brandon is on faculty at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan, Director of Operations/Research for the Trade Winds Ensemble, Senior Editorial Assistant at the Gershwin Critical Edition at the University of Michigan, and is the Artistic Director and bassoonist of the Emblems Quintet.

Brandon’s compositions frequently explore themes of love, nature, and conversation. Reviewers and collaborators have described his music as “haunting,” “lovely,” “dark and thoughtful,” and having “conviction, emotional depth, and vitality.” His recent commissions include works for well-established ensembles 45th Parallel Universe (Portland, OR) and The University of Texas at Austin Bassoon Studio, emerging artists the Back Pocket Duo (Ann Arbor, MI), acclaimed bassoonist and pedagogue Jeffrey Lyman, and the thriving Contemporary Undercurrent of Song Project (Princeton, NJ). Recent performers of his music include wind bands around the U.S., Third Angle New Music (Portland, OR) soprano Tony Arnold, New York Festival of Song, sTem Trio (NYC), Belvedere Chamber Music Festival (Memphis, TN), and Boston New Music Initiative. Beyond the concert hall, Brandon has composed and arranged for musical theatre and has written incidental music for numerous contemporary plays.

Brandon’s research and teaching engages queer and feminist theory and social activism in order to advance research and performance of marginalized musicians and their work. In 2015, Brandon co-founded the Emblems Quintet, a woodwind quintet/artist collective committed to education, inclusive- and equity-conscious programming, and performing exciting overlooked repertoire. In 2016, Brandon joined the Trade Winds Ensemble, a team of artists who use composition as a tool for teaching children and youth social-emotional skills such as communication, leadership, confidence, and self-expression. TWE’s partners include the Umoja Youth Centre (Tanzania), Rise & Shine Academy (Kenya), RefugeeOne and the Chicago Civic Orchestra (Chicago), Cemuchca (Cap-Haitian, Haiti), and the Ruth Ellis Center (Detroit).

Brandon holds a doctoral degree in Composition and a Graduate Certificate in LGBTQ Studies at the University of Michigan. He holds a master’s degree in composition from The University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in composition from University of Oregon. His influential teachers and mentors include Gabriela Lena Frank, Evan Chambers, Kristin Kuster, Robert Livingston Aldridge, David Dzubay, David Crumb, Robert Kyr, Idit Shner, Steve Vacchi, Kristin Wolfe Jensen, and Jeffrey Lyman.