Student pursues music, dream

IUS Horizon

Peter Felice, music composition senior

For Peter Felice, music composition senior, music has always been a passion, but the life of a student worker eventually got the best of him.

Felice began as a student at the University of Louisville as a music education major. He said he was struggling with his schoolwork and started to focus heavily on his job at Six Flags.

Little by little, Felice began to drop out of University of Louisville until he eventually dropped out completely because he said he was heavily depressed about how far behind he had gotten.

“I didn’t think there was any way for me to get back into school,” he said. “I eventually continued toward working in the theme park industry because that’s supposedly what I liked doing.”

He moved his way up the chain at Six Flags and into management positions.
He left Six Flags shortly after to begin working as an operations manager at Indiana Beach, a theme park in Monticello, Ind.

After working as the operations manager for one year, the company began to suffer monetarily and Felice’s job was cut.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I decided from that point on that I was going to go back to school.”

Felice’s ex-girlfriend brought about the idea of attending school at IU Southeast. He said he had heard really good things about the music department and decided to apply and return to school.

“Dropping out of U of L was kind of a tragic moment for me,” he said.  “I had my whole life planned out.  I was going to be a band director.  That was what I was going to do.  It really wasn’t my dream, but it was a logical thing for me to do.”

Ultimately, Felice said it was being laid off that was the turning point in his life. It was then that he knew he didn’t want to work at a theme park fr the rest of his life.

“I never felt respected,” Felice said. “I didn’t like that I did absolutely nothing wrong, and I was so easily replaced.  Nobody is going to even remember that I worked there in five years.”

Felice became interested in music at a very young age.  He began playing trumpet at the age of 11.

“That was when I got my first taste on what it was like to perform,” he said.  “That was what really opened my ears to the different instruments.”

At the age of 12, he became very interested in film composition.  He said he would go to stores to buy soundtracks from movies and play them repeatedly.

“I was extremely interested in that,” he said.  “Eventually, it became a dream of mine to write music for films and to see my name on the screen.”

He began writing music on the piano at the age of 16 and began writing electronically at the age of 18, which he said was inspired by his brother Matthew.

“He bought a program that you can write music on the computer,” he said.  “That was the key point where I started actually getting really involved in writing music.”

Felice wrote music for a marching band director in Oklahoma and also had three marching band scores published through Impact Marching, a professional publishing company.

Felice said those pieces led to his decision to go back to school and pursue a degree in music composition.

“I want to learn a lot more about the foundations of music,” he said.  “I want to get those connections.  I really want to get my music out there.”

Felice wrote a piece that will be performed by the IUS Concert Band on Nov. 6. He based it around a hymn he really liked.

“It’s about the Christian belief about God’s love,” Felice said.

He said he decided to put a spin on it, which everyone can relate to because not everyone believes in God.

“To me, when I die, the music that I wrote and gave to the world will live on,” Felice said.

He said he was very lucky to get the directors of the concert band, Don McMahel, concert band director, and Phil Thomas, assistant concert band director, to use his music.

“Without even wanting to hear the piece, Don and Phil basically felt like I had worked so hard here that I had earned the right to have a piece performed,” he said, “and that was a huge risk on their part.”

The addition of Felice’s piece to the concert band performance aligned to two rules that he has in life.

“My first rule is that you shouldn’t give up on your dreams, no matter how old you are, and the second rule is to do what little bit you can to make a difference in the world,” Felice said. “My music is how I will make a difference.”

Felice said he decided to get heavily involved in the music department in order to be someone the music advisers, staff and students could rely on. He  also works with the IUS orchestra, the concert band and the Commonwealth Brass Band.

Felice said his biggest goal in life actually has nothing to do with music.
“My goal in life is that I want people to remember me for what I’ve given this world,” Felice said.