24 hours proves enough time to create a symphony

Photo by Rachel Anderson

A person can do a lot in one rotation of the Earth.

Eight student composers and four performers from Butler University’s Jordan College of Fine Arts chose to use 24 hours between Friday and Saturday preparing for the semi-annual 24 Hour Concert, which returned again this semester after a year absent from campus.

The goal: write, rehearse and perform a piece in one day.

The composers and musicians who agreed to perform met at 8 p.m. on Friday.  Composition professor Michael Schelle drew the names of composers and performers from a hat, making impromptu groups of between one and five performers, with the composers acting as performers for one another.

Once matched, the composers worked to finish their pieces by the concert at 8 p.m. Saturday.  Some had their ideas right away and were able to get a good night’s sleep.

Some, like sophomore Hannah Varnau, wrote and re-wrote until the morning.  Student composer Scott Janz, who organized the event, had to finish his piece before heading to a full shift at work the next day.

“I was really pleased with most pieces from the concert,” Janz said.

Before the concert, the recital hall was abuzz with fervent energy, even though many were running on only a few hours’ rest.

Marimbas and stranger percussion instruments were moving backstage while the piano was set up onstage and composers were meeting with their performers one last time.

Finally, the clock struck 8 p.m., the Earth’s rotation was complete, the time was up.  Showtime.

One might imagine that music put together in such haste might be, frankly, bad.

Rather, every single piece in this concert was worth listening to, each one unique and well thought out.

Emily Lazar, a senior psycholgy and english major who was in attendance, said she has been coming to new music recitals since being introduced to the JCFA Composer’s Orchestra by some of her friends.

“The first time [I went to a concert], I was blown away,” she said. “I didn’t know music could be that way.”

The concert on Saturday was no different.

From solo vibraphone, to electronic tuba mutes, to a constantly fidgeting pianist, the pieces were laden with the collaborative energy of the previous day.

Schelle said that he was most impressed by the “confidence and commitment of the performers,” who gave their time and energy to give each piece its due.

“I was really amazed at how much the composers could do in 24 hours,” John Harris, a sophomore film and music composition major, said.

The Jordan College of Fine Arts’ Composer’s Orchestra will present a free concert Sept. 22 at 8 p.m. in Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall, featuring more work from student composers as well as established professionals.


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