James Conner, instrument performance and composition freshman, works on his song for the recital on Friday. Rodney Marner/Collegian Photographer

By Amber Hart
Staff reporter

There are difficult moments in the music industry. It is not always about the music and coming up with ideas. Sometimes it is about finding musicians to play your piece and stick with it.

“All of my guest musicians kept cancelling on me,” said Nathan Johnson, video game design sophomore. “What is going to be the hardest is getting everyone together with a week to practice.”

Johnson and six classmates are preparing for a recital. The Composition Recital will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at Messenger Hall.

“There are seven composers who will have pieces for Friday,” said Christopher Schmitz, associate professor of music and center for music composition. “Six are students currently enrolled in the composition program and one is an alumnus of the program.”

For James Conner, instrumental performance and composition sophomore, the challenge is sort of different. “The hardest thing for me is probably working with the performer to communicate what’s on the paper to the audience in a way that’s true to my initial and original idea,” said Conner.

Each of the students has a different style and they have written their piece in that particular style. Some like classical, while others like contemporary, rock or electro.

“I have written two pieces,” said Conner. “The first piece is a classical piece with a trumpet solo and the second piece is a very visually-oriented electro orchestral piece. It is designed to be paired with a video game or a movie.”
Some of the students are experienced and have written music for fun before this semester. It is not the first time for Conner and Johnson.

As for first-time composer Melissa Von Bon, music education freshman, this is her first time to write any type of music. Von Bon described her feelings about composing in one word, “overwhelming.”

Johnson wrote a rock piece last semester. “This year I wanted to challenge myself so I wrote for four instruments,” said Johnson.

Conner said, “I have been writing long before the project for this concert. I am still a newbie to composition though. I only have two years of writing under my belt.”

Composition is something that you can only learn minimally by yourself, so it is always nice to have a teacher or a mentor. Schmitz is both to these students. He gives them individual time in the practice rooms and helps in the composition forum at 6 p.m. Friday nights.

“Dr. Schmitz is clear and excited for new ideas. He is a joy to work with,” said Conner.

With the recital only days away, the stress is piling on for the composers. This is the time for them to be finalizing a lot of their work.

“I am definitely nervous,” said Johnson. “I haven’t actually played the violin in three years and I have never written for a string quartet before.”

On the other hand, there are some who are not nervous, but excited, for the recital on Friday.

“I am not nervous. I am very excited to show what I have been working on,” said Conner. “Not many people see my classical composition side.”

Amber Hart is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at Amber.Hart@sckans.edu.