Michael Harley

Bassoon, Voice, Keyboards

I grew up in Goshen, Indiana, a land of cornfields and maple trees. I also grew up Mennonite, which, because instruments were not historically allowed in church services (too prideful), when it comes to making music meant a cappella, four-part hymn singing (you can’t beat it!) My parents forced me to take piano lessons for a time, and eventually started me on this incredible squawking beast called the oboe; they said some day I’d thank them. Thanks, Mom and Dad. At some point in late junior high, my frazzled band director looked at all four of us oboe players (can you imagine the hair-raising sound four junior high oboists make playing in “unison”?!) and begged one of us to try a completely bizarre-looking instrument called the bassoon. I thought it seemed pretty cool, and definitely much more masculine, sure to be a hit with the girls, so I decided to give it a try. I spent a week in the practice room with a fingering chart and joined the band on a piece—and I remember this clearly—called “Greasy Kid’s Stuff.”

Fast-forward to the present: after finally making my way through school at Goshen College, Cincinnati, and Eastman, I’m now based in Columbia, SC, at the University of South Carolina, where I teach music theory, history, chamber music, and help direct the Southern Exposure New Music Series on a shoestring budget (we Mennonites are very thrifty). Along the way have accumulated lots of great life experiences—tops among them playing music on five continents, far from the land of Goshen—plus a wonderful wife, flutist Jennifer Parker-Harley, two darling girls, and (to my great surprise—I’m allergic!) a tiny cat named Clara Belle. I don’t have any spare time, but if I did, you’d probably find me hiking or reading or doing just about anything at the beach. And, thanks to Alarm Will Sound, I play music that might aptly be called “Greasy Grownup Stuff.”