At the mere mention of a music recital, many University students may cringe, haunted by childhood memories of stuffy auditoriums, over-eager parents and sadistic symphonies. Few, however, may conjure up images of delay/compressor programming and interactive audience recording.
Albert Hill ’07 included such unusual elements in his thesis recital, one of more than a dozen senior recitals performed this year. The seminal point in a music major’s academic career, senior music theses and recitals can demand a much more public soul-bearing than many of their academic peers. This year’s performances ran the stylistic gamut, ranging from experimental to funk.
Like Hill, several other performers incorporated interactions with the audience into their recitals. “An Evening of New Computer Music,” by Joe Mariglio ’07, explored a type of acoustic phenomena called “microsounds.”
“I’ve been honing in [on] a compositional style that presents the listener with an undeniable physical presence, with special attention to how the body reacts,” Mariglio said of his performance.
To help achieve his goal, Mariglio incorporated an installation by Tom Benner ’07. This part of the piece used the exterior of the CFA cinema to project a sonic mapping of the spectrum of helium in a magnetic field.
Other majors, however, took more classical approaches to their recitals. Michael Hurder ’07 composed a symphonic piece for a 23-piece orchestra, which was inspired by his experience with gamelan and rock music, as well as the arranging of Czech Romantic composer Antonín Dvorák. For some seniors, performance took precedence over composition. Alon Hafri ’07, endured rigorous preparation for his hour-long oboe recital. Choosing pieces from a range of musical eras, he incorporated both solo and group works.
“Starting this semester, especially, I really put a lot of time into practicing a few hours a day,” Hafri said. “There were some times that it was pretty frustrating, like when I would work for hours on certain difficult passages and feel like I made almost no progress. But it wasn’t always like that!”
In difficult moments, the music faculty advisors played a vital role to the seniors. Flexible and resourceful, renowned professors such as Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton influenced majors with their own works but also guided them in directions of independent inspiration. Hill describes his relationship with Lucier as “loose,” which was ideal for his autonomous creative process. Others, such as Vlad Gutkovich ’07, who led a 13-person funk band, worked intimately with their advisor.
“I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated, keen and helpful advisor,” he said about Adjunct Associate Professor of Music Jay Hoggard. “He kicked my ass when I needed it kicked—without him I might never have finished my project in time, and I certainly wouldn’t have gotten high honors.”
Despite the diversity of compositions, performances and styles, the senior music recitals embodied creators’ passion for the art and for personal expression.
“Not surprisingly, most of these songs [in my recital] share a common theme of dislocation in time and space, among other things,” said Max Heath ’07, whose performance consisted of delicate, subtle guitar and piano oriented works. “I plan on recording almost all of the songs in the studio for an album I’m working on.”
Bill Kellogg ’07 presented a low-key acoustic/electric set that focused on recording elements and his own inhibitions about the future.
“The name [of my piece], ‘Fear of the American Dream,’ just sort of popped into my head in response to being afraid of getting a job next year,” said Kellogg.
This is indeed a sentiment shared by many outgoing seniors. But if the talent and dedication present in the recitals are indicative of anything, the 2007 music majors have nothing to fear when it comes to future successes.