Special Feature: Tim Carrigg

If you have paid attention to jazz and jazz composers on campus, you already know about supersenior Tim Carrigg. Performances of his compositions in recent years have attracted large audiences. His demonstrable passion and perpetual good cheer have always motivated other conservatory musicians. This school year was his last at Lawrence, and he has done his best to make the most of it.

Carrigg studies composition with an emphasis on jazz and jazz piano performance. His instructors, Lecturer of Music Patricia Darling and Lecturer of Music Bill Carrothers, have pushed him every day to work hard and try new things. They were instrumental in planning and coordinating his senior composition recital. About Darling, Tim said he does not “know any other teacher as willing to get on the floor and string cables.”

In April, Carrigg won his second DownBeat Magazine Student Music Award. His piece “Namaste” earned him the 2016 winner’s spot in the “Best Original Large Ensemble Composition” category. It is rare for a student to win two DownBeat awards, especially consecutively. Excitement about this achievement helped Carrigg prepare for his composition recital in May.

Carrigg’s senior composition recital took place on May 14 in the Esch Hurvis room in the Warch Campus Center. It was a huge production, complete with complicated audio and lighting setups. Over the course of an hour, Carrigg’s jazz ensemble of 18 Lawrence musicians played four of his newest pieces. The musical style was a blend of jazz, rock and hip-hop that kept people nodding along.

Carrigg’s ensemble consisted of some of his oldest friends and some new ones. In the rhythm section, there was Jack Lussenden ‘15 on percussion, junior Jakob Heinemann on bass and junior Sam Genualdi on guitar. Additionally on stage, there were 14 string players and Carrigg himself, who played keyboard and managed sound effects on his computer.

Each piece had its own flavor. “Cell Tower Blinks Red” was a calm take on an emergency situation; electronic beeps, ambient noise and recordings of disaster warnings played on Carrigg’s computer at various points. Following that, Carrigg performed a solo improvisation on his keyboard.

Next, “Bruh…” featured an old-style hip hop groove that showed off the ensemble’s rhythm section. “Golden Visions,” the first piece the group learned, had a groovy, seaside feel—at one point, the string section was prompted to make seagull call glissando sound effects. The last selection, “Towards the Surface,” was the final and most difficult piece performed. Complex five-against-four cross-rhythms and constant meter changes kept the musicians on their toes.

The performance location and atmosphere was important to Carrigg. Many professors and students helped him set up the Esch Hurvis room so that it would be just right. A complicated audio system ensured that the musical balance would be perfect, and computer-operated colored lights changed with the compositions’ moods. The Warch Campus Center tech crew spent many hours setting up the space. Senior Zach Ben-Amots worked on a video recording that Carrigg will feature online later. “We chose to focus on getting a really good live experience,” said Carrigg.

So many people were involved in last Saturday’s recital, from those who performed to those who made it run smoothly behind the scenes. Carrigg also invested many months of work on his compositions, and it was thrilling to see it all come together on one night.

Next year, Carrigg will attend the University of Oregon, where he will study jazz composition. His goal is to start a student band with whom he can improvise and perform.