In a week of music and art performed and showcased by the fine arts students of the University of Indianapolis, a group of student composers added their personal compositions to the mix in the Student Composers Forum on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Ruth Lilly Performance Hall.
Students of Professor of Music John Berners and Associate Professor of Music Pete Schmutte showcased their original compositions in a non-traditional concert format for an audience. Student composer and sophomore music education major Rachel Harden and piano accompanist and junior music performance major Brandon Vos performed together on piano and ocean drum, while junior technology and recording major Luke Garrigus and junior general music major Dalton Kloeker performed in the dark by the light of their phones with squeaky desks.
Student composers whose pieces were featured in the concert included Garrigus, Angela Regalado, Harden, Zach Losacker, Meghan Farris, Kloeker and Kenneth Sell. All works were performed in one of the two formats: two-channel digital fixed media or live performance.
Harden chose to write a piece based on healing and overcoming the passing of her late husband.
“The piece [‘Requiem’] was in memory of the loss of my husband, whom I lost over two years ago,” Harden said. “It was just a piece to really express the anger that I felt about some of the unresolved issues of our relationship, but as well as the grief that I was going through.”
As the composer, Harden chose the piano and ocean drum as her instruments to represent the elements of her grieving process.
“The piano is reflecting my emotions —the anger, the sporadic emotions that can go with grief. Sometimes you’re fine, but then sometimes you’re kind of walking along, and you all of a sudden get smacked upside the head, and then you’re grieving really hard,” Harden said. “The ocean drum is to represent God’s presence. There was always this sense of peace, throughout all of my life, but especially during this time when I was still grieving. When it first happened, the time afterwards, I just felt this calm over me all of the time, even though I was having really erratic emotions all of the time.”
According to Harden, Vos was the right pianist for her piece because of his extensive skills in piano.
“I chose Brandon because he is a phenomenal pianist. And I really appreciated what he brought to the table as far as his talent, as well as some of his interpretations and suggestions for the piece that really brought it to life,” Harden said. “I really liked working with him.”
Garrigus wanted to show his audience a side of music that is unfamiliar to the listening ear.
“Dalton and I were behind the pond on campus, geese were honking and I said, ‘I think it would be really funny to make a piece out of geese,’” Garrigus said. “So I clicked ‘record’ on my phone, recorded the geese and recorded the piece.”
Garrigus decided, according to his program notes, to illustrate world-domination by the Goose Overlord with a collection of sounds such as explosions, cars honking, a funeral mass and the live geese.
“In the middle of the piece, I asked, how could I go over-the-top with this? What is the most over-the-top thing a goose could do?’” Garrigus said. “Then I thought, ‘Oh easy, [a goose could] destroy humanity.’ So in the mid section, I thought it would be great to have the geese chanting the ‘Dies Irae’ and then juxtapose that immediately with cars honking and build it up again to geese ripping apart humanity.”
Kloeker enjoyed Garrigus’s composition and found it thought-provoking about the power of geese.
“It sounded like a single cell of a goose speaking, and then it eventually grew into a regular sized goose. But then it grew into a giant monster-goose that destroyed all of humanity,” Kloeker said. “It was [a] really interesting growth of power in a goose.”
The geese on UIndy’s campus lawns, sidewalks and buildings during this spring semester reminded both Garrigus and Kloeker of the piece they were crafting for their performance.
“I always got the giggles, and my friend Brenden Everett was with me. He said ‘I’m never going to be able to see a goose the same way again,’” Garrigus said.
Continuing from the previous week, the Student Directed Productions will be held April 27 through April 29, all at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre of Esch Hall.