Innovative music choice represented in concert featuring student composers

Audience members listened in awe as students and faculty members performed intricate pieces that were each special in their own ways.

The Geneseo Symphony Orchestra, the Geneseo Wind Ensemble and several music faculty members performed “Geneseo Genesis New and Experimental Music” on Friday March 30 in Doty Recital Hall. The concert contained three pieces composed by students as well as three other unique pieces.

The first, fifth and sixth pieces were by non-student composers. They were “Company No. 2 for String Orchestra” by Philip Glass, “An Introduction to the Moon” composed by Libby Larsen and “A Maze (with Grace)” composed by Thomas Albert, according to the concert program. Coordinator of Instrumental Activities Leah McGray chose these pieces due to their simplicity.

“I love minimalism. I think the non-student compositions had the thread of being something that is very minimal,” McGray said. “Just minimal amounts of tiny motives that are interlocking in different ways, in creative ways and in unexpected ways. It’s like life.”

Assistant professor of music Michael Masci, who helped coordinate the concert alongside McGray, addressed the amount of confidence the students needed to perform these pieces.

“I think with some of the pieces it takes a lot of tenacity to pull these things off, especially in the more improvisatory pieces,” Masci said. “We’re comfortable reading music and being told what to play all the time, but to play some of this music takes a different type of performing.”

The first student piece was “Lyric Piece for English Horn and Strings,” composed by political science and music double major junior Timothy Snyder. The next student piece was “String Quartet,” composed by creative writing and music major senior Amanda Saladino. The final student piece was “A Tribute to Hong Kong,” composed by creative writing and music double major senior Simone Louie.

Masci praised students’ hard work on creating and playing these pieces.

“I think the three student works were all very intricate and they were all for chamber groups for four or five people. We had a lot of students performing them as well,” Masci said. “Particularly the string players had a lot of intricate string writing, a lot of counting, and a lot of dialogue between the parts. I think they did a nice job with that.”

McGray said it was beautiful to watch her students’ musical knowledge flourish in their chosen pieces.

“All three of our student composers are people who are pretty quiet in their everyday life. It’s amazing hearing someone’s real voice,” McGray said.

Flutist freshman Stephanie Alvarez Merlos emphasized the enthusiasm behind the music and how well the musicians portrayed their fellow students’ work.

“I think everybody showed exactly the passion the music was supposed to show because the music is composed by students here at Geneseo,” Merlos said. “They intended it, and I’m sure, the way the musicians played it was what the composers wanted.”

McGray showed gratitude toward her colleagues for helping her and Masci put together the concert.

“I’m just really proud. It’s not often you can go somewhere and have people buy into new music,” McGray said. “We have so many colleagues here who were all instantly on board with what Masci and I were suggesting, and so willing to volunteer their time and be a part of this.”

Masci expressed interest in future concerts like this one.

“I hope we can do this more often,” Masci said. “We don’t have these every semester or even every year, but I hope we can do it more than we’ve had in the past.”