Composition studio recital wows

Wouldn’t it be nice if upon your birth you were welcomed with thunderous applause? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you received adulation, adoration and $1,000 per month just for being alive? Last Sunday, this is exactly what happened; for while most students were relaxing and reveling in the melting snow, a few students engaged in a strenuous birthing. Audience members witnessed as various performers delivered the world premiere of six new pieces by Lawrentian composers in a beauteous labor of love. Each of these pieces was received rapturously, with thunderous ovations. In Lawrence’s approval-starved climate, it was enough to make one jealous.

The first piece was titled, “The Tale of a Fierce, Bad Rabbit.” Questionable adjective order aside, this piece by sophomore Sam Green was an erudite exploration of percussion and voice. It was performed by sophomores Margaret Slavinsky as a soprano, with Elizabeth Hermann and Keenan Story as percussionists. It featured much interaction of parts, with the vibes, marimba, snare drum and assorted percussion instruments trading off musical phrases with each other and with Slavinsky. This call and response structure led to a thin texture with a surprising amount of order. It felt as if one was watching an assembly of the House of Representatives on c-span, with each instrument taking the podium for a phrase while the other instruments listened or murmured quietly underneath. Indeed, at some points one was reminded of the Charles Cornell piano memes where he sets memes of people talking to music. The lack of a consistent time signature furthered this recitative feel. The piece had lots of pauses, some spoken word phrases and no tonality; audiences with a knowledge of music theory detected a distinctively 12 tone aroma around the whole thing.  

The second piece featured an even thinner texture, as the piece, “Willful Dancing,” was written and performed by sophomore Andrew Gooch on solo saxophone. The piece was an easy-going diatonic construction, with many repeated motifs of 18th notes that sputtered and soared like comets. The music bore an affinity with the French expressionists, while the performance itself bore an affinity with Stockhausen, who wrote a piece for saxophone with choreographed movements. As Gooch swayed onstage, stepping slowly and purposefully to the side, then to the back, then to the side, then to the front, you could almost imagine you were witnessing Stockhausen discover jazz squares.  

The third piece was another from the folio of Green, “Suite For Solo Cello, Op. 55.” Performed by sophomore Sara Smith, the piece’s four movements took their inspiration from Baroque movements like Courante and Sarabande. The piece was more diatonic than the first, but still riddled with chromaticism, which created tension. The music flowed like a triadic log creaking anxiously with chromaticism as it meanders along a mountain creek, worried that around each bend will be a perilously high waterfall.  This piece, therefore, stands as a monument to the unbridled creativity of those who conjure myriad dangers out of innocuous events.  

The fourth piece was a wind quintet by senior David Yudis. This piece seemed wholly generated from the idea, “What if all you could use was the Tristan chord?” This Tristan waterboarding was nevertheless captivating, as the piece featured wonderful contrasts of tempo and styles. The arrangement was superb, with thick textures, crunchily poetic intervals and a galloping sense of momentum.

The fifth piece was a quartet by sophomore Matthew DeChant. “The Last Tree” was bursting with warm extended harmonies. The piano and marimba formed a rhythmically active accompaniment, while the clarinet and bass clarinet engaged in melodic play. This cloud atlas-like concoction then was interrupted by a crunch fortissimo, followed by a sudden change in tempo for a race to the end. 

The final piece was performed by juniors Luke Auchter and Allie Goldman. Simply titled “Lyric Music,” this composition by senior Logan Willis was a delight, as the piano and trombone took jazzy joyrides in each other’s melodies. The syncopation and furiously fast tempo made this composition the only toe-tapper of the bunch.  

Overall, the whole recital was a delight from start to finish.

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