Cleveland Orchestra musicians to work with BW student composers

Student composers at BW will receive readings from world-class musicians this upcoming October.

BW’s Conservatory Student Composition Workshop and New Music Reading will take place on Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. in Gamble Auditorium in the Kulas Musical Arts Building. Four composition students were chosen by BW faculty to each compose a piece for a string quartet. The quartet will be made up of members of The Cleveland Orchestra, which is currently in residency with the Conservatory.

The student composers chosen for this workshop are sophomore, Veronica Cator-Szymanski, and seniors Sean Donovan, Abigail Johnson, and Patrick Owen-Leary.

Dr. Clint Needham, composer-in-residence and associate professor of music, said that the professional musicians could offer more insight to the composers than they would get from working with just their student peers.

“A lot of their student colleagues will worry about simply notes and rhythms and getting things correct, and professionals always want to go deep, much deeper than that,” said Needham.

“They’ll offer the composers a multitude of technical ways and emotive ways of expressing their music, and I think the growth from that is better than anything I can offer them as a teacher. I can tell them the theoretical things behind what’s going to happen, but until they work with real professional musicians who come in and execute their music and then ask questions that go deeper in their music. That’s where the real growth happens,” he said.

Cator-Szymanski said she is appreciative for the chance to have her music read by professionals.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to have a reading of one of my works from such wonderful musicians, especially so early in my career, and I couldn’t be more grateful and excited,” she said.

Needham said that this reading/workshop can be a learning experience for all attendees, not just the composers, and that the effects are impactful.

“I think it’s important for these residencies to happen, I think student growth is remarkable when it does happen,” said Needham. “I think it’s also long lasting […] these aren’t just sort of flash in the pan type of things that happen and “wasn’t that neat” and then they go away.”

He said there will be recordings of the reading/workshop so the composers can “live with that moment and have a great recording of their piece.”

The event is also open to the public, and Needham said that no musical background is needed to benefit from it.

“Just come with curiosity, just open to the creative experience that’s going to take place over time,” said Needham

This workshop, like several other conservatory events, is an opportunity for conservatory students to present their work to the community.

“I think…contemporary music is breaking down the walls that once separated everything…and that’s why I get to this idea that the music you expect to hear from a string quartet is more than likely, not the music you’re going to get from these four composers. They’re going to offer something, I think, very now, very much part of the musical world that we inhabit,” said Needham.