Students’ compositions make debut

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Student composers showcased their work at the UIndy Student Composers Forum on April 2. This event presented electronic and live pieces composed by students for class assignments or for personal reasons.

Before the performance, audience members had a chance to meet the composers and performers and even hear samples of their previous performances.


Jessica Spiars on the piano, Elaine Toon plays the clarinet and Chandler Appleby plays the clarinet at the UIndy Student Composers Forum.


Then the audience members filed into Ruth Lilly Performance Hall to hear the first piece, “Calls,” composed by senior Amber Beams and performed on flute by Music Faculty Adjunct Anne Reynolds. The piece consisted of three movements, each of which had “its own story to tell,” according to the program description.

The next composition was “Twelve Sweets for Piano,” by junior music education major Daniel Watson and junior James Loughery, followed by the first electronic piece of the night, “The Oncoming Storm,” composed by senior music technology and recording major Petra McGow-Russell. After the electronic piece came “Radio Play,” by senior music recording and technology major Johanna Bauchle, then junior music education major Daniel Dorsett played his composition “Etudes Op. 1: Mosaic” on the marimba. This was followed by Loughery’s electronic piece, “Bardo.”

Next, came “Requiem for a Child,”a composition by sophomore vocal performance major Andy Wegg with vocals by Wegg accompanied by Watson on piano. Wegg said that this piece was inspired by a parent’s fear of losing a child.

“I tried to write it like a lullaby, as if they were laying the child down to sleep one last time,” Wegg said.

After a brief intermission,   Elaine Toon on clarinet,  Chandler Appleby on cello and Jessica Spiars on piano performed “Requiem for the Searching  Heart,” which was composed by Toon.

The audience then listened to “Cardiac Arrest,” another electronic composition by Beams. Next came Watson’s electronic piece “As the Lone Singer Walked through the Park, the Late Evening Whispered to Her and She Dreamt of Beauty.”

Next, Spiars took the stage to perform two compositions using voice and piano. The first piece, entitled “Chocolate Hearts,” was written for a former boyfriend the night before Valentine’s Day,  according to the program’s description. The second piece, “Just Now,” was written collaboratively with Spiars’ friend Erin Reed.

After  Dorsett’s electronic composition “Sur Les Rails Empruntés Auparavant,” music education major Emily Townsley performed “The World You Gave Me.” Townsley told the audience that her piece was written in memory of her father.

The next piece,  entitled “Lost Signals,” was a composition by Sarah Alexis  Smith. Smith played guitar for her piece and also provided vocals with freshman music recording and technology major Quin Wezeman.

Smith then played guitar and provided vocals for her piece “Winter.”

Finally, Wezeman returned to the stage to sing his composition “Falling Back.” Smith assisted with vocals and guitar.

This opportunity to perform and present their own compositions was very exciting for some of the students. Spiars,  a self-proclaimed new composer, felt that the opportunity has taught her about herself as well as about composing.

“I haven’t thought of myself as a creative person,” Spiars said. “But I’ve definitely realized that I’m more creative than I ever thought I was.”


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