SIERRA VISTA — On the surface, Samuel Vaughan is like any other 12-year-old boy.
He loves video games, collects comic books and is especially crazy about Transformers.
The difference is, he writes musical compositions about them.
“I started playing violin three years ago with the Cochise County Youth Orchestra,” Vaughan said. “I played with them for five semesters.”
Vaughan left the youth orchestra to allow time for private lessons and follow his interest in composing.
“I love playing violin, but I really like composing as well,” he said. “I joined the Young Composers Project in Tucson and my first composition (“The Twilight of the Predacons,” based on the Transformers) was performed by the Tucson Symphony String Quintet when I was 10.”
His first full orchestral piece was performed in May 2017 by the Tucson Symphony Orchestra as part of the Young Composers Project. The four-section piece, “The Sacrifice of the Primes,” is based off a Transformers novel called “Covenant of Primus.” Using a variety of instruments, the music represents the final chapter when Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots — the good robots — sacrifices himself to save his planet after a fierce battle with Megatron — the leader of the evil Decepticons — and his forces. Certain instruments are used to highlight individual motifs, including a snare drum representing Megatron toiling away in mines with a pickaxe, while a glockenspiel symbolizes the tears from the Autobots for Optimus.
Vaughan’s Transformers-themed composition will be performed by the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra as part of its “Music and Movies” concert in January.
Violinist Pam Enright is the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra representative.
“I think it’s really exciting that we’re going to be performing his composition,” she said. “Young people do not normally have an opportunity to compose a piece that’s quality enough for the symphony to perform. This just doesn’t happen, at least in our community. I’m very impressed.”
Enright, who has two boys, said she knows all about the Transformers, which she said makes Vaughan’s composition even more intriguing.
“There’s that universal element of good versus evil that people like,” she said. “I look forward to performing his piece in January.”
Samuel is homeschooled by his mother, Hannah Vaughn. As a pianist, she and her son share a passion for music and, at times, she accompanies him on piano.
“We’ve performed together for Bethel Chapel in Tombstone and Samuel has done solo performances for several events in Tombstone, Sierra Vista and Cochise College,” she said. “He also gets asked to perform at different venues by AJ and Tanya Biami of the Cochise County Dance Club.”
Samuel said he practices about an hour a day. When asked why he selected the violin as his instrument of choice, Samuel said, “There are so many ‘up sides’ in playing the violin. It’s a beautiful instrument with a sound that is very close to the human voice.”
Vaughan attended the Southwest Strings Quartet Workshop in Tucson and was recently chosen as an alternate for violin in the Tucson Philharmonia Youth Orchestra.
“I really want to do more composing and hope to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston,” he said. “My goal is to keep composing symphonies.”