Aleks Tengesdal's story starts around the age of 10 in Minot, North Dakota. His story starts then because that is when Tengesdal was first introduced to the cello. Tengesdal tells a story where his father, a carpenter, did some work where all he wanted for payment was for Tengesdal to get cello lessons. Although it may seem like Tengesdal had an instant connection with the cello, he did not.
“I wasn’t interested in the cello at all when I was taking lessons. The moment I touched it and played around with it myself was the moment I really started liking it, and I instantly picked up how to play,” Tengesdal said.
With his love of playing the cello, Tengesdal graduated high school in Minot, and then headed to the University of Nevada Las Vegas for his undergraduate degree.
He received his degree and was then offered a teaching assistantship at UMD.
“I was more or less recruited to come to UMD. It was my best choice, and it was an awesome choice,” Tengesdal said.
According to Tengesdal, his teaching assistantship extends beyond just teaching; it also involves plenty of behind the scenes work, and, most importantly, being a leader for undergrad musicians.
Besides his teaching assistantship, Tengesdal has been working on his graduate recital, which he will perform on Sunday.
“I actually chose a program I already knew. It shows what I did here as a student,” Tengesdal said.
Half of the recital will include his own pieces that he composed, and the other half will be pieces that other composers wrote specifically for him.
The road to success hasn’t always been easy for Tengesdal. He mentioned it is hard to work in his own apartment, and that he personally needed a space where he could work.
“I need a place where I can be productive, and UMD has provided that,” he said.
He also talked about the challenges of finding your own voice, and the work that you need to put into the music if you really want to achieve your dream.
“You absolutely have to be willing to risk what you have,” Tengesdal said.
Although there are challenges, a career in music can also be rewarding.
“As a cellist, I can speak directly to someone’s heart with my music,” he said.
Although music is a big part of his life, Tengesdal has a wide variety of other hobbies. He enjoys spending time with his wife and cooking.
“I like to leave my suitcase at the door. I like spending time with my wife,” he said.
Tengesdal talked about how when he listens to music he doesn’t usually choose the classical genre. Instead his choice of genre would be heavy metal.
Because of his fondness for heavy metal music, one of Tengesdal’s favorite hobbies, although it revolves around music, is creating unblack metal.
He describes unblack metal as a Norwegian invention where the content centers around more positive things than black metal.
In his spare time, he plays around on Garageband creating unblack metal. He uses his cello and an acoustic guitar to create the music.
“It’s all about the chords. You have to do it fast,” he said.
Although Tengesdal doesn’t believe in creating five year plans, and doesn’t know exactly where he will be in five years, he does have dreams for his future.
He talked fondly of his wife, who is also a musician, and the dreams that they hope to make a reality someday.
“One day we will have a project of our own. We just need more time,” Tengesdal said.
To describe his future, he used the analogy of a fish net. He has spread the net over the water but the net hasn’t caught the fish. He is considering moving onto his doctorate, although he hasn’t made a final decision on whether or not he will pursue it.
“We are excited about the unknown,” Tengesdal said.
To get to where he is today, Tengesdal wants music students to know the importance of finding their own music voice.
He looks at his career as a musician as lots of hard work and lots of effort on his part. He did what he needed to do to become the successful musician he is today.
His best advice for fellow musicians:
“I firmly, 1000% believe a musician needs to put in the labor to find their voice,” Tengesdal said.
Tengesdal’s graduate recital is on Sunday at 7:30 PM.
BY TAYLOR JENSEN Arts and Entertainment Editor