Conservatory of Music show features harps and saxophones.
On Wednesday Nov. 3, family and friends gathered in the Lansing Recital Hall to support musicians in the Conservatory of Music. Students composed a wide array of pieces for a variety of instruments and themes.
As the audience sat in anticipation for the concert, Dr. Robert Denham, associate professor and interim chair for the Conservatory of Music, introduced the schedule for the evening and explained the significance of the occasion. For this second composition concert of the year, each student composed a piece to be accompanied by a harp.
Four of the musicians were selected to win the A Piacere award and record their piece after the concert. Harpist Grethen Sheetz joined the performance to play “Fantasy for Harp” composed by senior music major Michael Fausett, “Piercing Shadows” by music composition major Heidi Voth, “Chased: Play it Cool” by music composition major Caleb Bilti and “Starlight” by music composition major Kayla Fermanian.
Each of the pieces displayed substantial talent and personality in both the stories and compositions. Music composition major Jaden Knighton’s “Tumultu” utilized both the piano keys and strings in his piece as he worked through feelings of being overwhelmed in a state of chaos. The event program states, “Tumultu resolves with a glissando in the lowest register of the piano. The notes ring out and blend together and leave the listener with a sense of motionless uncertainty.”
Another notable song arranged by music composition majors Jason Rhue, Noah Peterson and Devan Watanabe, titled “Level 7,” incorporated video game elements with various selections from games such as Mario, Wii, Minecraft, Pokemon and more. This unique style demonstrated the seven musicians’ skill as they successfully passed each level to reach level seven within the different movements.
“Bats at Midnight” by Anita Taylor, first-year media composition major, told the story of the bats that she saw in her neighborhood in Texas. The fluttering notes within the song represent the creatures in flight. Taylor explains that the key was specifically set in F Sharp Major since she has synesthesia — meaning, she sees various colors as she plays or listens to music. With this in mind, she specifically chose a key which represented the color purple before writing the composition. With this being her first concert at Biola, her family joined her for the evening to celebrate a piece she wrote three years ago as a high school student.
“It’s cold outside, so you know, [I was] blowing on my fingers to get them warmed up … I [was] a little nervous, but I knew my family was here so that was good,” said Taylor.
After each performance — including a bow and tribute to the composer — the crowd applauded fervently for the impressive collection of pieces. The Conservatory of Music will host two additional performances in the spring 2023 semester to display their students’ accomplishments.