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Composer taking center stage

By Andrea L. Zrimsek, North Journal Staff Writer
Thursday, December 9, 2004


His original musical scores can be heard all over the world, however musician and composer Steve Kornicki can walk down the streets of the North Hills rather anonymously. And that's just the way he likes it.


As a classical composer, Kornicki is accustomed to his music playing more of a strong supporting part, than a leading role. Yet his most recent piece of music, "Morning Star Rising," will soon take center stage.

This 17-minute orchestral composition has been chosen to be performed and recorded by a professional orchestra in the Ukraine and distributed internationally as part of the Masterworks of the New Era CD series. This is the sixth volume in the series that showcases modern American composers.

Kornicki spent countless hours composing the different scores for each orchestral instrument. But unlike composers of eras past, he used hi-tech computer sound equipment to write and rewrite the celestial piece. "When I'm writing I have to strike when the iron's hot. I get it out first and then put it together," he says.

But composing intricate musical scores is not a new endeavor for Kornicki. He began composing original music at age 9 when his mother started giving him piano lessons. By the time he was a teenager he was writing chamber music and composing his own classical pieces.

He jokes that growing up in inner city Philadelphia he did not want to go outside much as a child, so instead he stayed in and played music. So he and brother, Kevin, a percussionist who was featured in the North Journal in October, would wile away hours playing music together.

In his teen years, Kornicki expanded his repertoire to include bass, acoustic and electric guitar. He attended Philadelphia's Settlement Music School where he majored in guitar and says his mind was opened up to the theory of music. It was then that he began writing a wider variety music and began pursuing a career as a composer and musician.

Kornicki, along with his brother, moved from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh about 10 years ago in order to pursue music careers. He continued composing, while at the same time collaborating with his brother for shows at festivals, private functions and clubs. While living in Pittsburgh he met and married his wife Melissa, a lifelong resident of Richland Township.

In 2000, Kornicki, like many musicians, headed to Los Angeles in hopes of getting his music into the television and movie industry. And that move proved fruitful. He composed scores for several independent films and instructional videos. And several of his musical pieces were selected for inclusion in music libraries, which are compilations of musical pieces that are purchased by a television network for use in future promotions.

Kornicki also recorded three CDs and was featured on several radio programs including Echoes on National Public Radio and radio programs in Japan.

After three years in LA, Kornicki says he was ready to come back home to Pittsburgh. He says the competition for composers was fierce on the west coast but that he made many contacts that he still works with today. And working in Pittsburgh also gives him a wider range of opportunities. He works with many local singers and songwriters and also works as a music producer. In addition, he performs regularly with his brother at Fresco's restaurant in Wexford. "There is a lot of room for original music in Pittsburgh. It just takes time for things to happen."

Now that "Morning Star Rising" is completed and on its way to the Ukraine for recording, Kornicki is working to bring his musical expertise into the pop genre with an original song he wrote about Melissa when they met.

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