“I did not read music entering college but by my second year I applied and was accepted into the BA of Fine Arts program. Five years later I completed a year in the M.A. program in Music Composition-Technology. It was a difficult period of my life, but the struggles were well worth enduring.” – Mito
Mito’s musical change began in 1991 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UW-M). Mito enrolled as a Broadcast major hoping to launch a career in radio that fulfilled his love for music. However, because of a love for singing nurtured during childhood, Mito tried out and joined the university choir. During the spring semester of his second year in college (’92 -’93), Voice Professor Evelyn LaBruce (1937-2006) was so impressed by Mito’s performance and vocal talents, she invited him to study with her. This was the beginning of Mito’s formal love affair with music education.
Within weeks of this semester, Prof. LaBruce taught Mito how to identify vocal notes on piano and read Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Bass scores. By the end of the semester, she convinced him to become a Voice major. During the summer months following that semester, Mito was charged with learning music theory survey in preparation for advancing into the UW-M Music program. That fall, Mito “aced” the final exam, which gave him instant entrance into Theory I, the first semester music theory class.
Immediately upon his entrance into the Music program, Mito’s professors noticed the unique gift Mito had for focusing, fortitude, desire and an immediate grasp of written music. They encouraged him to take chances by diversifying his instrumental and genre repertoire. While in his first year of the program, Mito explored and refined piano playing and vocal performance to add to his proficiencies in jazz-fusion guitar and world percussion.
That spring (’94), Mito met an oboist from the prestigious Music program at Oberlin College. This chance encounter changed Mito’s musical passions and educational pursuits for forever; in a casual conversation about music careers and the differences of teaching versus performing, the oboist asked Mito a poignant question: “Can you imagine never teaching music or directing a choir the rest of your life?” Mito simply replied, “Yes, I can imagine not doing that.” Nodding, the oboist then asked, “Can you imagine never composing or playing guitar?” Mito paused, and then proclaimed, “No… no way!” This proclamation was to be the mission statement for Mito’s future creative successes with musical performance and composition. With his conversation with the oboist still fresh in his mind, Mito bought a music composition book and spent the summer months on the grass next to the lakefront, studying techniques and reading about avant-garde composition methods.
In the late summer of ’94, while speaking to a fellow classmate who was a Composition major, Mito was encouraged to speak to Prof. Yehuda Yannay (see: yannay) about becoming a Theory Composition Technology major, which is often considered to be the most difficult area of music theory to pursue. Prof. Yannay agreed to teach Mito composition/technology on a probation/trial basis for that semester. It did not take long for Prof. Yannay to see the passion and natural ability of his new prodigy. Prof. Yannay became Mito’s mentor and confidant for the next four years. Mito also studied Electro-Acoustic Music (digital-analog studio engineering) through Prof. Jon Welstead (see: ~jonw) (UC-Berkeley graduate) and Computer Music Theory and form structure from Prof. Gregoria Suchy, who had been at UW-M for fifty years in Mito’s third year in the music program.
Needless to say, Mito had an extreme amount of “catch up” compared to his fellow music composition majors, most of whom had been studying music even before they could talk. After five long and rewarding years in the music program, Mito continued his studies by pursuing an MA in Music Composition-Technology at UW-M. However, he stayed in the MA program for only one year before making a life-changing decision to cultivate his desire for Flamenco music. This reintroduction began in 1995 with a memorable encounter of Flamenco’s preeminent guitarist, Paco de Lúcia. His journey eventually evolved into a voyage to Spain to explore his ancestral roots and Flamenco heritage.