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Alexander Belzer

Alexander Belzer isn't just another promising student at Irvine Valley College (IVC) – he's  carving out his own niche in the music scene one note (and one scholarship) at a time. 

A third-year student on the cusp of transferring to Chapman University as a Composition Major come fall, Alex has known since he first took up piano that he wanted to pursue music for a living. On the other hand, he also knows how tough it can be to make a livable wage working  strictly as a composer, conductor or musician. At IVC, Alex was able to pursue a double major in Business and Music, with the idea that if music didn’t pan out, an associate’s degree in business could be his backup plan. 

It turns out Alex didn’t have to look far for funds to fuel his musical dreams: Both Chapman University and the prestigious European American Music Alliance (EAMA) have offered Alex  scholarships to attend a month-long EAMA composition program in Paris this summer, where  he will study with professors from the Juilliard School and other major music academies. Alex  says he’s excited about the opportunity because not only will he be studying with professors trained by esteemed French orchestra conductor and teacher Nadia Boulanger, “It’s great for  composers because we get immediate live personal feedback.” 

Reflecting on his time at IVC and how it laid the path for his current successes, Alex  underscores the important role of the college's faculty in nurturing his musical prowess. "The  teachers at IVC, especially the music faculty, are exceptionally bright," he remarks. "I’ll be  talking with my fellow music majors and peers about them, and we're always shocked that  they’re not at some type of big music conservatory. It’s really a blessing.” 

Among these mentors, IVC Prof. Daniel Luzko stands out as a guiding force in Alex's quest to become a composer. "In the past two years, I have grown so much from his teaching, his skills  and mainly because he comes from a different background,” Alex says of Prof. Luzko. “He grew up in Paraguay, and has a different musical style than I do, and really helped me grow as a  composer.”

Central to the music program at IVC is a rigorous curriculum designed to sculpt well-rounded musicians. The program includes four semesters of harmony as well as sight-singing and chord  analysis, plus weekly private lessons and a corresponding performance workshop in front of all  the other music majors. Students are also required to enroll in at least one performance ensemble, with Alex choosing both piano ensembles and a symphony orchestra, where he is a  percussionist.

Although his love for music has never faltered, Alex says he chose to attend community college out of high school because he wasn’t particularly sure what he wanted to major in.  

“Going to IVC gave me that time to figure out what I wanted to do while completing valid college courses, and also it was a cost savings,” he explains. “There can be a lot of stress going into a  performance or an exam, but I look back and I think ‘I've overcome all of these challenges: I’ve accomplished performances, I’ve learned different instruments.’ I do reflect quite a bit on how far I've come both in the past two years and even in the last semester.”

With ambitions ranging from conducting a major orchestra to composing music for video games, Alex says his education at IVC has been instrumental in honing his skills and broadening his horizons. He also encourages those who have never taken up an instrument that “it’s never too late” and recommends piano as a good place to start.  

“Almost everything in music is explained through the piano, from music theory to learning how to tune,” he says. “And we have beginning piano classes at IVC that will teach you, step by step.”