Drawing Inspiration from Polebridge

By Beacon Staff

Chatting with Brooklyn-based composer Rob Mosher is a bit like trying to grab a quick drink out of a fire hose. Whether he’s discussing his music or the weather, Mosher’s infectious energy is on full blast, full time.

This is likely part of what keeps getting him commissions for musical pieces, such as his forthcoming project, “Polebridge,” an album of chamber music inspired by the tiny Northwest Montana town.

“It’s one of my favorite projects,” Mosher said. “It’s been so much fun. I love Polebridge so much.”

Despite being located in Brooklyn, New York, for most of the year, Mosher is no stranger to the Flathead. He’s spent the past five summers and three winters in Whitefish working with Alpine Theatre Project.

He plays music with various bands while he’s here – Mosher, 33, is well-versed in the soprano saxophone, the oboe, the clarinet, and plenty more wind instruments – and travels when he’s not working in the ATP orchestra pit.

On one such journey, Mosher and friends visited Polebridge, where he sat down at an old, “lived-in” piano and started playing a bit. And though he sat there originally because his friends wanted to shoot a video of him playing serious, classical music in an incongruous environment, the experience eventually turned into the impetus behind his new project.

A friend saw the video, Mosher said, and commissioned him to write more pieces for that specific piano, with the idea that Mosher would go back and play the songs on the Polebridge keys once they were composed.

That was a year-and-a-half ago, and the project has since turned into more of a chamber music collective, or what Mosher calls “chamber music infused with folk music and that Polebridge vibe.”

Mosher plays the soprano sax on the album and composed the songs, and has a talented ensemble filling in the rest of the sound, including Grammy-nominated violinist John Marcus; Andrew Small on bass and fiddle; New Orleans-based jazz pianist Stephanie Nilles on grand piano, saloon piano and vocals; and Micah Killion on the trumpets.

The group wasn’t able to get up to Polebridge to record all the songs, Mosher said, but instead found a broken-in former saloon piano to play for the album. This gives certain songs a different sound, he said, because they switch from saloon piano to grand piano and back throughout.

Rob Mosher working on music for the album “Polebridge.” | Contributed photo

Mosher hopes to release the album in June, and has set up a Kickstarter fund to help pay for the CD editing, mixing, mastering, and pressing, as well as the CD artwork and press release campaign.

As of March 18, the Kickstarter was 54 percent funded at just over $2,700, and had six days to go in its 30-day campaign.

And while waiting on finalizing this album, Mosher has kept busy, composing music for string quartets and starting on a symphony. Mosher considers himself a classical composer in the sense of classical music’s ideals of balance, form and harmony.

It’s been a calling he’s felt since he was a kid, Mosher said, though he didn’t start seriously composing until he was in his 20s. That’s what brought him to New York from his native Canada, and that’s what keeps earning him commissions and grants.

He’s constantly writing, Mosher said, because anything can provide inspiration for a new project, even an old piano in a tiny town out West.

“I’m never trying to do one thing or the other,” he said. “I’m always just writing for little things, and you never know what things turn into, right?”

For more information on Rob Mosher’s “Polebridge,” visit www.robmosher.com. For information on the “Polebridge” Kickstarter campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/1894269327/polebridge.

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