AUSTIN (KXAN) - In a state-of-the-art recording studio in Fredonia, New York, a symphony orchestra is in full bloom. The crescendo stirs the heart of everyone in the room, none more so than Nathan Felix , 31, of Austin. Felix clinches his fist and pounds the air, his eyes closed tightly, as his "child" is born. Part of the irony is: The seed for this child was planted by Felix's own human offspring, eight-year-old Revolution Felix.
The other irony is that none of it would have ever happened without that argument between Felix, his brother and his two best friends.
You see, after he earned an advertising degree from the University of Texas, Felix and those three companions formed a band and hit the road, traveling the country for three years.
"We were in Boston," Felix recalled, "and we had to drive from Boston back to Austin.
"And so we, at that point, were at each other's throats and we just couldn't really stand being around each other, always sleeping in vans and stuff.
"What calmed us down was we would turn on the classical station up in Boston and through the different states.
"And I just started to, I don't know, in a haze of driving through the nights, I started to realize, 'Wow, there's a lot going on in here that I've never paid attention to.'
Felix's heart began to stir.
"I've always thought," he said, "classical music is just, you know, what puts babies to sleep. I just didn't have an appreciation for it. I just wasn't exposed to it.
"It just kind of took my mind to different places, you know, similar to just experimental type of music.
"We didn't fight the whole trip."
From that moment on, Felix was hooked. Wherever he went in his car, classical music went with him on the radio.
"One day," he said, "something came on and my son, he was in the back, and he said, 'That's cool!' He's like, 'I like that.'
"And I was like, "Whoa!' I was like, I always keep this music on but I didn't really think he paid attention.
"And I was like, 'You like that?' And he said, 'Yeah, I like it.' He said, 'Why don't you do something like that?'
"And I said, 'Well, that's a full symphony; I can't do that.'
"And he said, 'Well, why not?'
"And instead of trying to explain it to him, I thought to myself, I said, 'Well, you know, why not?'"
The switch had been flipped, but the room was still dark, because Nathan Felix, simply put, had no idea how to begin.
What he did have, though, was a new version of his band, the " Noise Revival Orchestra ," which included people who actually did know how to compose and notate music.
"I had friends who were going to school for that, that would, you know, refer a certain book to me, or recommend a book. I would read them and ask questions.
"I had people in the band that played, you know, whatever, violin or cello, and I'd say, 'What's this and how does this look? How do I notate this or what's the range? And they would just kind of teach me, instrument by instrument and I just kind of picked it up."
"Kind of" are the operative words in that sentence.
"I would start," said Felix, "by humming when I started working with orchestral players and stuff. I would hum it and say, 'Play it like this.'
"And they'd play it and I'd say, 'No, that's wrong.' I was like, 'Play it like this,' and I'd kind of like: 'Hmm, hmm, hmm,' you know or whatever.
"'Or, 'bup-be-de-bup-be-de-buh,' you know, sort of things like that. So it started off like that where they would have to memorize based off what I heard.
"And eventually, they got really annoyed by it and they said, 'Dude, you're going to have to learn how to write.'
"And I said, 'Well, how?' They're like, 'Well, okay, come, come here, come over to my house at 3:00, you know, tomorrow; I'll give you the basic lessons.'"
And so it began. It began and it continued and it continued and it ground on and on and on.
"I had been working every night," Felix said, "from like about 1:00 in the morning 'til 5:00 in the morning, was the only free time I had. I worked eight months non-stop every single night and I knew when I was done and I said, 'Yes, finally, I'm done.'"
He named the symphony, " The Curse The Cross & The Lion ," and he dedicated it to his son.
The truth, though, was that Felix was just beginning. It is one thing to write a symphony; it is another thing again to convince a conductor and an orchestra to learn it, play it and record it.
The budding composer started with civic orchestras surrounding his hometown. When they turned him down, he got bold and approached the Austin symphony. Getting nowhere there, he expanded his search to the entire state of Texas.
Some people would have grown discouraged. Nathan Felix did not.
"I don't like no for an answer," he grinned. "So when I want something, I go get it. I always just kind of live by that: If you want something, get it."
Finally a friend told him about a friend of hers who was a conductor: A fellow named Andre Lousada from the Czech Republic. Felix fired off an email.
A month later, he got a reply. Lousada was not only interested, he was in
New York for a year. Felix spent eight months fine-tuning everything and then he set out for the Empire State and a five-day recording session.
"I mean, I'm kind of throwing in all my chips, you know, on the table, hoping that it goes perfect. And things didn't go perfect from, from the beginning. It was nerve-wracking."
But slowly, agonizingly slowly, the musicians learned the music. Lousada embraced the process. The rough edges rolled smooth and in the corner of the room, Nathan Felix closed his eyes and slipped into reverie.
"I think it just all hit me," he remembered, "at that moment like, 'Wow, this is complete; this is, this did work out. It's something that I'm extremely proud of.
"And that music of having, you know, full orchestra just kind of hit you right in the face; it was special. And I choked up and I looked around at all the people that were there and my friends that came and the people that helped me, and I thought like, 'Wow, how did this happen? I'm so thankful; I'm so humble; I'm so grateful.'
"And I just kind of let it all soak in."
Then came another invitation: Organizers of the Levon Manukyan Summer Program for Emerging Composers in Bourgas, Bulgaria, offered Felix the chance to come to the workshop this year to record a new orchestral piece.
The plan is to try to release the vinyl album and CD, along with a documentary film about the project later this year.
Then there are the school visits Felix is lining up.
"I go to schools," he said, "and I try and tell, you know, students or just kids or youth and I say, 'Don't rule this out. There's a lot more things that you can do.
"'I was never in orchestra; I never played in band or anything. You don't have to follow that route that everyone's already paved. I'm trying to pave a new route and encouraging people to pave their own route and say, 'You can do music in all these different ways.'"
In the long run, Felix has his sights set on more travel around the world. After all, that's where the music lives, hiding just below the surface in faraway places inhabited by people he doesn't yet know or understand.
"There are just so many things to explore," said Felix, "and so many people, you know, to collaborate with and so many countries to visit and be inspired by, that will, you know, bring out something new.
"I mean, we're not in the 1800s. We're in 2013 now. And there's this need for progression; there's a need for collaboration. There's a need for just different genres and different personalities coming together, creating new music. I mean, why not?"
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