Franklin Hansen: Award-Winning Composer

Most students have, at some point, dabbled in music at East Brunswick in one way or another. Whether it was the flute you tried for a year in fifth grade or your short-lived stint in chorus, it’s likely you’ve crossed paths with the Arts Department before quickly diverting to something else. Franklin Hansen is not most students.

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Franklin Hansen holds his trumpet, which he’s been playing since the fifth grade. “It saved my life and started my career,” he says.

Q: WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN YOUR LIFE THAT SETS YOU APART FROM YOUR PEERS?
A: I won the state competition for composition and have just recently won another composition competition. Out of 200+ submissions (not young composers), me and seven others are having our submitted works being recorded by the University of Kentucky Brass Quintet. I have also just completed a multi-thousand dollar commission to write new music for wind band. I was commissioned by the Grand Ledge High School Wind Symphony to write an approximately five-minute piece that is representative of the effects that cancer has on all of us. In the past, I’ve traveled to different states to have my music performed and to be a guest speaker with the performing band.

 

Q: WHAT TYPE OF ACTIVITIES, CLUBS, SPORTS AND/OR SCHOOL EVENTS DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN? DO YOU HAVE ANY LEADERSHIP ROLES?
A: Marching band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, pit orchestra, Tri-M Honor Society, Crescendo music club, and I play in a jazz/funk brass ensemble. I’m the Tri-M Liaison for the Crescendo music club, and I’m the lead trumpet in both the marching band and jazz ensemble.

 

Q: HOW DID YOU GET INTO COMPOSING? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST PIECE?
A: Freshman year Mr. Perez had us write tiny pieces for his composition project. He liked mine and complimented it. That was the first nice thing I heard that year and I started to spend every lunch period with him or Ms. Lindner. As for the name… it was something like “Perez Thing.”

 

Q: DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE COMPOSITION?
A: Probably my newest piece, “A Solemn Message.” It was a very hard piece to write because of its sensitive subject matter, but I think it turned out to be effective. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for “Syncopation Circus” because it won me the NJMEA award.

 

Q: WHAT IS YOUR COMPOSITION STYLE?
A: Style? Uh, that’s a tough one. I like to write dark-ish stuff. Like changing meters, extended harmony, and using polyphony to create many independent lines at once.

 

Q: WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACED WITH COMPOSING?
A: Being taken seriously while young. It’s a ton of fun to write music, but to actually get your music played (as well as paid for), it’s super difficult when people only think of you as a student. It comes down to a lot of talking with some “big names” in the industry and hoping that they like you… and your music of course.

 

Q: IF MONEY WERE NOT A CONCERN, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE?
A: I would like to both become a music education teacher and get a degree in composition. I want to teach and try to help students like my teachers helped me. Mr. Perez taught me what instruments could and could not do; Ms. Lindner taught me how to make music readable and playable; Mr. Sturr forced me to write music; and Mr. Toth scared me into writing better music.