February 2017

Through film and imagination, we envision the life and creative process of a composer as alternately joyful and excruciatingly painful. We imagine the composer writing, ripping, and tossing in frustration and starting again, grasping at snippets of tunes half hidden in the mind, then rushing to the piano only to realize that brilliant melody has escaped from the mind. For the composer, it is all worthwhile in the triumph of hearing one’s music performed onstage before an audience.

Alyze Rabideau, 2016 Composition graduate gets advice from Michael Slayton, head of the Composition Department; Photograph by Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt University

On Wednesday, February 15, at 8 p.m., the Blair School of Music presents Living Sounds, the highly anticipated performance showcasing the contributions of music composition majors.

“Ten years ago, the faculty put this concert series explicitly into the hands of the composition majors. They self- govern now (i.e., each year they elect their own officers), and the selection of works for a particular Living Sounds concert is entirely up to them. I think this is one of the strongest aspects of our program,” says Michael Slayton, head of the Composition Department at Blair. Our students learn how to build and execute an effective concert. They make their own advertisement posters and programs; they emcee the entire evening, sometimes offering “living program notes” from the stage. It’s all a wonderful learning experience for young composers, housed in a safe environment where they are free to experiment, to try new things, to see what works and what doesn’t.”

The February 15 performance is one of three Living Sounds concerts presented each year. The next performance is scheduled for April 5 when five composition majors will be joined by visiting guest composer Robert Nelson and soprano Sonja Bruzauskas to present six different settings of the same poem: “On the Question of Angels,” by Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Haymon. In a special concert on April 19, eleven composition majors paired with eleven violin majors from the studio of Professor Connie Heard will present “Violinvasion!”, an evening of new works for solo violin or violin plus one accompanying instrument.

For more information, visit blair.vanderbilt.edu.

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