An artist of widely diverse musical talents, Mike Forbes has set forth on a career encompassing all aspects of composing, performing, teaching, and conducting. He began his writing career creating hundreds of arrangements and compositions especially for brass and winds, many of which are performed by today’s foremost ensembles. His works for the Sotto Voce Quartet and the Isthmus Brass (groups he co-founded and manage), have also gained him worldwide acclaim. His most popular and profound works for tuba/euphonium quartet, “Consequences” and "Bridge: A Mini-Requiem for Countertenor and Tuba Quartet" have especially distinguished him in the tuba community. The quartet’s recordings feature Forbes’s many compositions and arrangements for the genre, all of which can be found on his website: www.eBrassMusic.com.
Forbes began to compose for other genres as dozens of commissions from well-known brass artists and band directors began to come in after a number of his early works were performed and published internationally. He has also had success in composition competitions having won the Dallas Wind Symphony Fanfare Competition multiple times, awarded 3rd Prize at the Humboldt Chamber Brass Composition Competition, and was awarded the International Tuba/Euphonium Association’s “Harvey Phillips Award for Composition” for his work for solo tuba and band, “Tapestries”.
Forbes is now in high demand as a writer especially for brass instruments, band, and orchestra. He is a composer for Carl Fischer and FJH Music and a low brass specialist for Kendor Music and Editions BIM whose works regularly appear on the JW Pepper “Editors Choice” list. He has recently received notable commissions from university wind ensembles, orchestras, and today’s most prominent solo brass artists. A huge advocate of music education, Dr. Forbes regularly conducts honor bands and gives composition clinics to middle and high school students around the United States. During his residencies he often works with students in creating and developing motives, later intertwining them into larger works for band and string orchestra.
Forbes began his career as a tubist in the U.S. Army Band, “Pershing’s Own” where he also composed and arranged for the various ensembles in that prestigious unit. His efforts did not go unnoticed, and he was awarded an “Army Commendation” medal for his writing during his enlistment. He left the band for a career in academia, and served as the chair of the composition and music theory area as well as low brass professor at the He has also served in similar capacities on the faculties of the University of Nebraska – Kearney and Illinois State University. He currently serves as the low brass professor at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
He is an active freelance tubist and in high demand performing throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe as a soloist, orchestral musician. He has also performed in popular styles with Mama Digdown’s Brassband and with the “Guy’s All-Star Shoeband” on the popular radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion.” He has recorded for Summit Records, Nexos and Mark Records and can be heard on a number releases including those of Sotto Voce Quartet and Isthmus Brass as well as on his own solo recordings, “Forbes Play Forbes, “ and “Forbes Plays Koetsier.” As a conductor, Forbes served as the musical director of the Brass Band of Central Illinois and has guest conducted numerous elements of the U.S. Army Band.
Forbes studied with some of the most well-known tuba pedagogues in the world to include critically acclaimed composer/tubist, John Stevens. He received his DMA at the University of Maryland, MM at the University of Wisconsin and a BM at the Pennsylvania State University. He has also engaged in additional music studies in the United Kingdom at the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music. His time in England afforded him the opportunity to grow intimately familiar the British Brass Band Tradition—from which he draws a great deal of his compositional influence.