WESTMONT – Noel Fortman has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to his talent for music.
The Westmont resident and current freshman at University of Illinois began playing piano at age 4, singing at age 6 and by high school was composing pieces.
"I've always been involved with music since a very young age," the Westmont native said. "But once I began composing, it appealed to me in way that performance hadn't before.
"I found it fascinating the things you can accomplish."
Recently, the 18-year-old Hinsdale Central High School graduate had one of his compositions chosen to be performed by Zodiac Trio, a classical music ensemble.
The trio, who formed in 2006 at the Manhattan School of Music, has toured three continents, according to the group's website.
The group, made up of a clarinet, violin and piano, performed Fortman's piece during a concert tour across China.
The piece was part of a college project that had composing an original piece, and when Fortman saw that Zodiac Trio had made an online "Call for Scores," he submitted his composition.
"I happened on their website and thought there's no way I'm going to actually ever be involved," Fortman said. "And if I had to write a piece for my class anyway, why not?"
It was an exciting moment for the music composition major as his piece was selected among others from professional composers who perform in large music halls, he said.
"The piece I wrote for the Zodiac Trio took me about two hours," he said. "It wasn't too long of a piece, but since I had to turn it in for a grade I spent time making sure everything was according to the assignment."
While he's still in the beginning stages of his career, Fortman said this is one of the best times to be a composer.
"You're very much unlimited in way you can do," Fortman said. "Restrictions that were in place are lifted in and you have a lot more freedom than you used to."
His musical journey is far from over.
"Right now, I'm just going to keep studying as much as I can and keep trying to get my pieces performed," he said.
Fortman said he hopes to one day achieve his master's degree in U of I's music doctoral program – ultimately helping him become a professional composer.
GET TO KNOW NOEL FORTMAN
Education: Hinsdale Central High School graduate, current University of Illinois student
Family: Dad Mark, mom Lisa, brother Niel, pet dog Nicki
Hobbies: Watching TV, hanging with friends, movies, composing