Angelese Pepper and her family commuted 130 miles to be a part of Tucson Symphony Orchestra’s Young Composers Project. The Safford teen began making the journey in 2012, driven by her love for music.

She taught herself how to play the cello, organ, viola, piano, harpsichord and a little bit of everything in between. Now, the 18-year-old also composes as part of the program.

This weekend, as she’s about to graduate from high school and head off to Arizona State University on a full scholarship, her latest composition will get a reading as part of the orchestra’s annual Composers Project Reading Sessions.

During a recent chat, Angelese said her musical path was set a long time ago, when she started playing and studying.

“I was always in my own world,” she said, which made those hundreds of miles not seem so long.

Life as notes on a page

“I haven’t lived a hard, hard life, but I have had some troubles and some emotional stuff, and I put that into my music. … Usually a piece just pops into my head, like this whole, written-out piece, and I hear it all. It is really hard because I do not know how to write it all down so quickly. … It comes in my dreams a lot.”

Inspired by Beethoven

Charting a future
in music

“In the eighth grade, when I was really into the organ, the cello and the oboe, just all these instruments, I thought, ‘I think I want to be a musician.’ I really love this music; I just want to have it forever. … I don’t want to be a doctor; I want to be a musician. I want to go to Juilliard. I want to be a conductor.”

Push play on her iPod, and you’ll hear:

Sharing her love
of music

“I want to put that message out there that I really love this music and I hope you guys enjoy it, too. ... I want it to feel like an emotional experience for the audience so they can remember it for a long time.”

Anthony Victor Reyes is a University of Arizona journalism student apprenticing at the Star.