Composers’ Forum added to Ovation

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This will be the first year that the Composer’s Forum will be held during Ovation, a unique opportunity that will feature works by seven student composers.
The Composer’s Forum concert used to be held during the opera season at the end of March. However, this led to many issues due to the opera requiring so many players, said Dr. Jonathan Sokol, assistant professor of composition. So much so, he said, that often times there would be a deficit of players.
This year the concert was moved to give full focus on the six orchestra pieces as well as to include some works performed by Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphonic Band.
“We had to find a solution that would allow us the maximum amount of rehearsal and bodies present in the orchestra,” said Sokol, “because operas are no small thing to put together and demand quite quite a bit of attention and players.”
The composer’s forum is geared towards mostly juniors, he said, who will be needing a recording to send in the coming year with graduate school applications, if they so choose to take that path.
The process starts at the end of a composition student’s sophomore year where students come up with an abstract proposal of what they might want to do for an orchestral piece. The students will choose scores that they will want to study and analyze that will help them in their approach to their own writing.
The student composers in this year’s forum includes seniors Nabil Abad, Chase Lenz, Patrick Owen-Leary, and Greg Watson and juniors Daisy Ai, Steve Chauvette, and Trevor Lanford.
It is rare for composition students to have this opportunity, even in graduate school, said Sokol.
They will offer what is called a “reading,” said Sokol, which would be a thirty-minute time slot to hear what a student’s piece sounds like with an orchestra. It usually consists of a read through of the piece, going over a few problem spots and then running it again, with the student getting a recording of the reading session.
Soo Han, director of orchestral studies and associate professor of conducting, said that he hopes this unique opportunity will help students grow as composers.
“I hope composers will use this opportunity,” said Han, “to hear how their works would be actualized by musicians and then be given an opportunity to make changes and to learn for their next composition.”
It is important to have composers creating new art, he said. If performers are not playing new music, said Han, they would just be playing the music of the past and killing innovation and imagination.
“We have a responsibility to participate and encourage,” he said, “and to be a part of shaping and making the music of the future.”
An open reading will be held April 25 at 1 p.m. in Gamble Auditorium with the full concert held that evening at 7 p.m.