Creativity shines in composer’s concert

Students have a chance to see Butler University’s student composers perform their own pieces this Thursday.

The Jordan College of the Arts Composer’s Orchestra presents a concert about once a month, and over fifty percent of the music is composed by the students.

Brice Johnson, a graduate composer who plays in the orchestra, said being in the orchestra and playing your own piece with them is an important part of the process.

“Once you do put your ideas down on paper, it is vital to have someone play it because you have to know if it’s matching what you’re playing,” Johnson said.

The composer rehearsing his or her piece with the orchestra allows the composer to interact with the piece and allows the experienced players to give their input as well, said Michael Schelle, music professor and composer-in-residence.

The composition process typically involves the composer studying with a teacher to create a piece of music, the orchestra rehearsing the piece, the composer making final edits, and the audience hearing the final edition in concert.

Johnson studied with Schelle to create his piece.

Taking lessons is “like translating into a different language; you have to know someone who really knows the language to be able to tell you what’s right,” Johnson explained.

Another composer, Ethan Anderson, worked with Frank Felice, an associate music professor, on his piece for the concert.

Felice also said the composer-orchestra interaction is important because the composer gets to gauge the audience’s reaction to the piece, whether it is with roaring applause or sporadic clapping.

Anderson is a junior at Butler and also plays in the orchestra. He said his piece this time around is more traditional than his previous works.

Felice said part of the creativity and fun is the different dynamics each composer brings to the stage. He added that each year has usually gotten better since the orchestra was formed, but each group is different.

Schelle, Felice, Johnson and Anderson are only a few of many who are collaborating to make this concert possible.

Schelle said there are about 20 composition majors, six of which are presenting their work on this upcoming concert.

He hopes for every composer to want to showcase their work through these concerts.

“If they want to, they should have the outlet and the opportunity to do it just the way Beethoven wanted to do it or Stravinsky wanted to do it,” he said.

Schelle has been at Butler for 30 years and he says the bottom line of composing is the creativity, which makes you a better person.


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