Setting the tune of the semester

By Shanna O’Mara

Westminster Choir College (WCC) students will perform a set of all-new pieces at a Composition Concert on Feb. 14.

This is one of two department concerts this semester featuring work written primarily during winter break.

“This concert is different not only because every single piece on the program is new and composed by our fellow students, but also because many of these pieces are composed of vastly different sonorities and techniques from established classical repertoire that is performed in most WCC concerts,” junior theory and composition major John Franek said.

Senior theory and composition major Alan Schlichting is the stage manager for the program. He received all of the composition submissions and helped create the unique program.

“We provide an open forum for any student to have their music heard, so the air is very informal and represents the diversity of our college,” Schlichting said. “In one concert, everything from traditional voice and piano music, organ solos, choral works, piano duets, new musical theater, small instrumental ensembles and even electronic soundscapes have been heard.”

Franek, who looks forward to performing alongside fellow student musicians, will play a piano piece.

“My piece being performed at this Sunday’s concert is for two pianos and electronic track. This means that I will have someone start the track that will be projected throughout Bristol Chapel while myself and a fellow keyboardist will perform live on the two pianos. This is something you wouldn’t experience in any of the other concerts at Westminster.”

Westminster graduate student David Lawn often writes choral songs and views this recital as a way to optimize potential career opportunities.

“I like to showcase a taste of an art song cycle to students, in order to advertise and network myself further,” Lawn said. “It’s nice when singers approach me after the concert with an offer to write for them.”

Westminster graduate student Matthew Van Dongen is another composer who approached this show differently.

“I wrote a series of modern takes on the 19th-century form, the nocturne, for solo violin rather than the traditional nocturne instrument, the piano,” Dongen said. “The second nocturne will be premiered at this week’s concert.  I met with a violinist, and we rehearsed through parts of the piece together to get an understanding of what the work sounds like when it comes to life.”

Westminster graduate student Joseph Stutzman will present an aria from an opera he has been working on throughout the year.

“I expect the concert will leave everyone with something to take home and cherish,” Stutzman said. “With so many different minds at play, it’s impossible not to find something special.”


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