Fifteen-year-old Henry From already boasts accolades that would be the envy of musicians twice his age, with the latest feather in his cap being named the winner of the Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region’s emerging composer’s competition.
From, also an accomplished pianist and violinst, is the youngest composer to win the competition, and will be the youngest composer to have a work performed at the Winnipeg New Music Festival, when his Isle of Pic is featured on Monday night’s Orchestral Voices of the Future showcase.
"I’m excited and honoured," says From, a dual Canadian/U.S. citizen who lives in Bellingham, Wash. His family, including his grandpa Milt, who lives in Winnipeg, will be in attendance for the occasion.
"Most of the time you aren’t successful because there are so many great composers around, but I guess I got lucky."
From, who was bitten by the composing bug at age seven, often travels to the Vancouver Academy of Music to further his studies in composition, piano and violin. He is in Grade 10 and is partly home-schooled by his parents, Milton and Ellie.
He earned his Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto diploma in piano with first-class Honours at age 12 and won the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Manulife Concerto Competition in 2018. He also was named to CBC’s 30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians Under 30 list in 2019.
He is particularly inspired by visual art, and lists Ravel, J. S. Bach, and Beethoven as well as 20th-century composer Alban Berg as his musical heroes.
"A few years ago, I was writing a lot of music in an impressionist style," he says. "But then I learned Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata on the piano, and that kind of changed my style. I love that he has so many layers of counterpoint, and realized that you can express whatever you want to express in your music. It’s ultimately your choice, and there are no limits."
It comes as no surprise that music will feature in his future career plans.
"I’ll be happy wherever I end up, as long as I’m composing and playing the piano," he says. "I’m currently expanding my repertoire with the piano, and am always writing lots of new pieces and getting to work with wonderful musicians… I’m just curious to see where this is all going to take me."