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Vassili Makavos

Tempe, AZ   

From a very early age Vassili displayed a fascination with music and was always found interacting with music in some way, shape, or form. At the age of 7 he began to sing and formally took vocal lessons at the age of 9. Prior to his vocal lessons at the Pittsfield School of Music in Massachusetts, he taught himself how to read music so he could dictate melodies and arrangements. He spent close to three years at the Pittsfield School of Music, where he worked up his sense of rhythm, melody, and vocalization.

In 2001 he moved to Arizona to attend Highland Jr. High School. He joined the 7th grade Boys Chorus, not realizing how wide the music program really was, He met with Amy Benett, the junior high orchestra teacher and insisted he be given an instrument to play with the strings. Thus he was given a Bass and Vassili taught himself well enough to be the first chair of the Bass section at the end of the semester. This is where he began to explore more of his compositional side.

By the time he was a sophomore at Highland High School, he was not only enrolled in all the required academic classes, but was able to work his way into having the following music classes added into his schedule: Men’s Chorus, Concert Choir, Advanced Vocal Ensemble, Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Strolling Strings Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, and acting as a TA for the Freshman Chorale. He was the only freshman to be accepted in the top choral group of the high school, Concert Choir, and was made Tenor section leader short after.

It was during his sophomore year (2005) that he met Dr. Daniel Bernard Roumain, who at the time was working in an outreach program through Arizona State University with the orchestra. He spoke with Vassili about a composition program that he was doing with the Orchestra of St. Lukes. Vassili immediately joined in and began to work with Daniel for the following year under his guidance while he prepared his first publically performed composition: Sinfonia for String Quartet & Piano. Later that year on a choir trip to San Francisco, he met David Conte from the San Francisco Conservatory of music. David helped Vassili get into the idea of being pursuing a dual degree after graduating high school. David also spent some time consulting with Vassili through email and telephone, giving him advice for his compositions and ways to develop himself as a musician. From that time, Vassili’s goal had become not only to be an opera singer, but an opera singer who can compose his own symphonies, requiems, operas, and perform in them as well.

In the Fall of 2007, Vassili was accepted to attend Arizona State University. Since then he has studied composition privately with Dr. Jody Rockmaker, Dr. Rodney Rogers, Dr. Roshanne Etezady, Dr. Glenn Hackbarth, and Dr. James DeMars. He has also had private clinician sessions with visiting composers Jonathan Newman and Michael Colgrass. He studied voice for six years in his undergraduate with Dr. Jerry Doan and two years while in his masters with Professor Judy May.

In 2010 he composed his first film score. The film, Love Mom, was an independent short film that was being shown as a capstone project in the film and media school of ASU. The director had asked for a five-minute piece for piano and cello that had the qualities of Chopin-esque musicality.

Vassili’s next project would consume the majority of his Fall 2010 semester as he spent it writing a full requiem over an hour in length. The premiere performance of the Requiem took place at Trinity Cathedral Church on March 21st 2011. The ensemble was comprised of choral and vocal students from the ASU School of Music. Dr. Skye Hart was the organist. Currently it is one of Vassili’s side projects to finish orchestrating the requiem for Full Chorus, Soloists, Organ, & Orchestra.

Immediately following the requiem, Vassili began his second film score project and put together a 30-piece orchestra, which also featured the organ. It was recorded on April 9th, 2011 and the film was premiered in May 2011 as a final capstone project of the film and media program at ASU. It was the first film in the history of the ASU Film Program to have an original score with a live-recorded orchestra on the soundtrack. This film was accepted and shown at the Blue Whiskey Film Festival of 2012 in the state of Illinois.

At the beginning of the Fall 2011 semester, another recording session was held for his third film score for the independent short film, Good Injuns. The score was written for piano, strings, and percussion. This film won second place in an online film festival.

In June of 2011, Dr. Skye Hart asked Vassili for a new piece for organ for an inaugural recital he was giving. Vassili agreed and was very excited to compose a piece for him after working with him on the requiem. On October 9th 2011, Vassili’s first Symphony for Organ in F Major premiered for the American Guild of Organists Arizona Chapter.

Vassili’s fourth film score for the short film, El Cucuy, was recorded on Saturday March 31st, 2012. It is the largest orchestral score Vassili has had a chance to work with. The 38-piece orchestra was comprised of brass, winds, percussion, guitar, accordion, piano, harp, and strings.

In September of 2012, Vassili put together his own string quartet. He has been working on the completion of his first two string quartets from high school along with completing the third string quartet. After he completed writing down his third quartet, he immediately began composing his fourth and fifth string quartets.

One of his greatest projects is writing down his first opera, The Tell-Tale Heart based off of the short story by Edgar Allen Poe. This is a large full-scale work that he has been working on since high school. After completing the vocal score Vassili plans to begin a workshop process and finalize the orchestrations for a premiere performance.

Vassilios completed his sixth year at Arizona State University and graduated completing his dual degrees in Vocal Performance and Composition in May of 2013. In May of 2015 he received his Masters degree in Opera Performance. Since then he has been keeping busy with various projects such as composing for McClintock High School, Westwood High School, Mesa High School, and Highland Junior High. He is also a member of the Arizona Opera Chorus and will be singing the lead baritone role as a returning guest artist in the ASU Lyric Opera Theatre’s premiere production of James’ DeMars’ Guadalupe. Amongst all his work and side projects Vassili teaches composition and voice privately at the East Valley School of Music in Chandler AZ.


Uptown Funk – Westwood Symphonic Strings

This was for the 2015 spring pops orchestra concert at Westwood High School. Uptown Funk was arranged for the strings and interwoven with a mix that was produced and created by producer/DJ Tanner Ninke [TNAN].

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Ave Maria – ASU Women’s Chorus

This was a commission by Ashley Conway who was director of the Arizona State University Women’s Chorus. This was featured as a world premiere on their concert which was all different settings of the text for Ave Maria.

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National Anthem – AZ Cardinals

This was for a home game for the Arizona Cardinals.

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