by Michelle Hoffman
Cellist Isabelle Kramar has had “random melodies floating through her head” for as long as she can remember. She was grateful to be a part of the Downey Creation Project this year to help her harness those melodies. A pianist since age four, her compositions have come together through piano, where she says, “all the instruments of the orchestra are available to her.”
Her first formal composition, The Infinite Waltz, was premiered by the Metropolitan Symphony this spring. She was awarded first place in the 2019 WSMA Composition Project for the piano solo version of the piece. She is currently writing a concerto and sonata for cello, and a piano quartet which she will develop at composition camp in Minnesota this summer.
Isabelle’s interest in artificial intelligence began with basic coding in third grade. Her involvement in the organization Girls Who Code followed. She recently won an Aspire IT grant to teach an AI workshop to girls in grades 8-12 this summer at Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Isabelle has always been very interested in how the brain works and says she “loves AI because it is like a computer brain. It can help people in a lot of ways.” She sees herself someday incorporating it into composition. “When I began composing, I realized there’s no software where you can play music on a piano and convert it to notation with full accuracy and all its details and nuances. What if there was a program that did that? Going a step further, what if the program suggested harmonies as you go for inspiration?”
Isabelle began MYSO in String Orchestra in sixth grade. Now a rising high school junior in the Senior Symphony, she reflects on those early years. “Ms. (Anne Marie) Peterson made a big impact on me. She was so positive. It was a very welcoming environment right from the start, and I’ve made so many friends since.”
Isabelle’s mother, Yelena, who emigrated with Isabelle’s dad to the United States from the Ukraine in 1996, talks about the opportunities Isabelle has received through MYSO.
“The opportunities MYSO is providing for Isabelle…it’s surreal to even think about it…they would be absolutely impossible in the Ukraine.”
“You have to get through a lot of obstacles as an immigrant…with language, getting a job, feeling ‘different.’ What Isabelle gets to do here makes going through all that worthwhile. When her piece was premiered by Metropolitan in Uihlein Hall, I cried thinking about how everything led to this. It felt like a dream.”
Isabelle shared what she was feeling in that moment. “The feeling of having someone else play a piece you wrote is amazing! Getting a warm reaction from an audience is like nothing else!”
She can’t wait to see what the future holds for her…at MYSO and beyond!