It’s human nature to, when hearing about an overachiever, directly compare yourself to said overachiever.
So, here it goes: At 15, I was an average student who excelled at sleeping late on the weekends and eating large quantities of microwavable food. I held my own in English class, and I like to think I made my friends laugh on a regular basis.
Those were the only the only indications that I had discernible talent. And talent, then and now, is probably too strong a word.
By contrast, at 15, Iggy Mokriski had one of his compositions performed by a professional orchestra in front of a live audience.
It seems safe to assume that a zip code is the only thing we have in common.
On an overcast afternoon in mid-November, the Hunterdon Symphony premiered Iggy’s “Symphony No. 4 ‘Truimfante’ mvt. 1,” which he described in an interview with the Bucks County Herald as his best work yet. “Each piece evolves, and, as I move forward, there’s much more out there,” he said.
Iggy, which is short for Ignacio, his middle name (he composes under W.I. Mokriski), has bushy blonde hair and an effortless smile. He lives in Stockton Borough and attends South Hunterdon High School, where he’s a sophomore. He plays sax in the school’s marching band and piano in the concert band. He’s also learning to play the oboe, because of course he is.
He was born in Portugal (his mother’s Portuguese) and lived in New York before moving to New Jersey. His entry to music, as it is for so many, was piano lessons. He took them with his older brother, Leo. Leo’s interest waned after a few years, but Iggy’s was just beginning to bud.
He studied under jazz pianist, and Pipersville, Bucks County, resident, Neil Podgorski. As he honed his ability, Iggy says he felt drawn to classical music more than any other genre.
He composes through an app called Sibelius, which he said is akin to playing video games.
The arrangement performed by the Hunterdon Symphony is Iggy’s fourth symphony. He’s also composed four piano sonatas. (You can listen to all of his work on his YouTube channel.) He told the Herald he prefers classical music’s romantic period. (Think Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Chopin.)
The well-trained ear is also likely to notice the influence of Robert Maggio, who’s been mentoring Iggy. Maggio, who lives in Lambertville with his family and teaches at West Chester University’s Wells School of Music, is a prolific composer who The Philadelphia Inquirer described as “smart, vital, and inventive.” He’s currently collaborating on several new musicals.
“He’s helped guide me a lot,” Iggy said of Maggio.
In at least one way, Iggy is a typical 15-year-old: He told the Herald he hasn’t given much thought yet to life after high school. He is only midway through 10th grade, after all. But whatever his ultimate decision, he says that music will remain in the picture.