Traditional music groups perform modern compositions in aberrant New Music concert

Tracet Bass (pictured above) performed in Doty Recital Hall in a concert with the Spectrum Singers and GSO Winds group on Nov. 30. Audience members had the privilege of listening to modern pieces played on traditional instruments or sung. (Udeshi Seniveratne / photo editor)

A sea of supporters held flowers for performers they knew while watching the New Music Concert on Friday Nov. 30. Enthusiastic friends and family gathered to support Tracet Bass, Spectrum singers, and the GSO Winds at this event in Doty Recital Hall. 

The show emphasized how inventive composers can be when they create new music. Many of the songs had something old in mind for inspiration while adding a new film to make it fresh. 

Professor of music and department of music chair Gerard Floriano admired the novelty of the concert. 

“[The concert] is an exciting opportunity for our students, giving them a chance to play music that they otherwise wouldn’t play,” Floriano said. “It is always interesting to hear new music and new pieces you have never heard before.”

As the brass performers started, the audience was immediately engaged. The dedicated performers played well together and created a wonderful tune. The concert even showcased music written by senior trombone player Timothy Snyder.

The Spectrum Singers came out with a touch of piano and string instruments to make a hauntingly beautiful performance. The performance, while having different instruments, was incredibly cohesive and well put together. The range of notes and transition from soft to powerful created a great experience for the crowd. 

The wind instruments then mixed old with new, using Renaissance themes as inspiration. The diversity of instruments created a playful sound and were very pleasing to the ear.

Junior flautist Katherine Cotten enjoyed playing modern songs in the concert.

“It is a really cool event with new music, [conductor and coordinator of instrumental activities Leah McGray] was talking about people being afraid of new music. I think it is important to experience different things,” Cotton said.

The new way of composing and performing really shined through as everything flowed together as the old and new influence interacted. To the performers, experimenting with different sounds is always important.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things, go for it,” Cotton said. “It may not sound great at first but keep going and it will fall into place and something beautiful will come out of it.” 

Next the wind instruments played a piece called “In C” which is a musical work composed by Terry Riley calling for an indefinite number of performers. It consists of a series of melodic fragments as the groups of instruments started and stopped at different times. 

No two versions of “In C” are the same and can run for any amount of time. The version at the New Music Concert created melodies that flowed and collided, giving different textures to the sound as the instruments moved in and out at different rates. 

The New Music Concert gave both performers and the audience the ability to participate in something new and different than anything done before. 

“The audience takes away whatever they want,” Floriano said. “Art and music speak to people differently. Whatever you take away from it is great, there is no right or wrong.” 

The audience expressed enthusiastic and positive reactions after each piece, clapping and cheering on those they came to support. The concert gave them the opportunity to see music through a new lens while not forgetting the old influences that started everything.

“We usually stick to established pieces, whereas this concert gives a chance to do new music,” Floriano said. 

The concert provided everyone the opportunity to illustrate what modern composers are working on, how old can be used in the new and how diverse instruments can work together. The event overall gave a refreshed look at music and composing with a variety of pieces that came together seamlessly.