Music department premieres student compositions

Alexa Highsmith, Staff Writer

Ten student composers showcased their original compositions in Deane Chapel on Friday night. Studying theory and composition under Dr. Steve Butler, the students have been preparing their pieces since the beginning of the fall semester, if not before.

Composers enlisted student performers to play their pieces, creating a symbiotic relationship between student composers and performers.

The program opened with a string quartet piece by Matthew Metz titled “Archetype.” Metz characterizes his piece as “an abstract exploration of the platonic spirited faculty in the archetype of a person.”

Metz’s piece draws on the complexity of the human psyche, delving into the unknown that can only be fully accessed and understood by the creator himself, and although the listener’s efforts may be valiant, they can never fully understand the music.

Gabriel Rojas followed with his piece “Arrival.” He describes it as “a cinematic type piece that portrays an intense sequence of events … or perhaps just one event … it can be whatever you imagine it to be. It then breaks down to a slower pace then picks right back up and finally ends with a beautiful resolution.”

Many of the premiering pieces displayed unconventional, creative qualities, such as a piece called “Fate’s Dance” by Sarah Hooker.

Inspired by the verse from Ecclesiastes 1:2 that reads “‘Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!’”, the piece is “an aleatoric piece, meaning that the element of chance is written into the music, and it will never be performed twice the same way.”

Hooker describes the method of the piece: “At the beginning of each section, the players will roll the dice, and the number they roll will tell them how many beats to count before playing the next chunk of music.” The music is left up to “the roll of fate.”

Among the other creative composers are Jared Clarke, Luke Spicer, Bella Chiolero, James Groenhuis, Paul Wuest, Payton Dugas, and Dylan Monacelli. Of the three graduating seniors this year, including Wuest, Monacelli, and Hooker, Wuest and Monacelli also exhibited creatively designed compositions.

Wuest explores the nature of time through percussive beats, utilizing various orchestral percussion instruments. The piece is titled “Ebb and Flow,” embodying the essence of “the passage of time.”

Wuest notes that “sometimes, it feels as if time is chugging slowly on and on like a slug, moving inch by inch, always traveling onward, but never feeling like it’s actually getting anywhere. Other times, time rushes on, faster and faster until it feels as if you’re free-falling from hundreds of feet in the air, spinning completely out of control, waiting for the undeniable, inevitable, inescapable ground of reality.”

The program closed with Monacelli’s piece, the first movement of an untitled Woodwind Quintet, a moving, mystical, and attention-capturing composition.

The Westmont Music Department will be hosting several upcoming events, including the Jazz Concert on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m., the String Chamber Concert on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m., and the Fifteenth Annual Christmas Concert at First Presbyterian Church from Dec. 13-15.

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