Articles

Music MAPs in Composition

October 1, 2019


Voice-Over>>On Sept. 24, three Grinnellian composers were
given the rare opportunity to debut pieces written during their summer Mentored Advanced
Projects in composition. But the final product performance in Sebring-Lewis
Hall was really only a small portion of the entire musical process. Vincent Newton>>Coming in, I didn’t understand that there’s
[sic] some things that are very idiomatic for the voice to do and some things that just
aren’t. I just wrote things that wouldn’t really be singable and [were] just too tough.
Eventually, after you do it and you fail, and you fail and you fail, eventually you
get the hang of how not to fail anymore. Michael Maiorana>>If you’re working on a composition alone,
you might get stuck in a rut and not be able to get out. But if you have someone else there
who’s going to help you every day of the week if you need it, then it really can enhance
the experience of writing music. John Rommereim>>To go from nothing to something — to see
the creative process and to be involved with it — is fun. It’s a great challenge to
compose music. I admire anybody who attempts to do it because it’s not easy. V-O>>Rommereim was able to work closely with three
students, Michael Maiorana, Erik Jarvis, and Vincent Newton, all class of 2012, on their
MAPs — an advanced, mentored culmination of previous academic work that results in
a publicly shared product. Erik Jarvis>>When you’re alone in the basement of Bucksbaum
[Center for the Arts] singing the soprano part, you’re like, “Okay, maybe this will
sound good.” And then you get to hear it, how you want it to sound, and, as John says,
it’s irreplaceable to hear your own music. Newton>>With working with students, you get another
look at the music itself when you’re actually teaching people how to sing it and the way
that you want to hear it. It’s seeing your music in a whole new level. Kyle Walters>>It’s mostly exciting because I really enjoy
singing something that somebody I know, somebody who’s my friend, wrote. It feels a lot more
personal than a lot of the other music I’ve sung. Not to say I haven’t enjoyed that
music too, but this has another dimension to it. Sometimes we’ll be in rehearsal singing
something and Vinny will be, like, “Actually … this should be different.” And that’s
something that doesn’t normally happen with the other music. So I guess that’s a difference,
but in terms of quality, it’s right up there. V-O>>These MAPs gave the students the privilege
to fully delve into their creative repertoire while constructing pieces during the summer
months in Grinnell. Newton>>It just allowed me a time — three months
— where I could just focus in on music, solely: writing and playing piano. I didn’t
have to worry about doing math homework or econ or any of that stuff. It was really just
rewarding just to be able to focus on one thing that I really felt passionate about. V-O>>Before the ensembles took the stage, the concert
began with John Rommereim giving a brief overview of the compositional process. The following excerpts are taken from Michael
Maiorana’s piece, “Snowflakes,” set to a Longfellow poem of the same name and
featuring a cello accompaniment by Yoo-Jung Chang. [“Snowflakes” composed by Michael Maiorana] [Applause] Newton>>I would say that the music MAP, the composition
map, is an invaluable resource; and if you’re even thinking about doing it, you definitely
should. It’s worth completely worth it in every way.

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