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ISSUE 119 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/5/2006

Recital showcases 'Fresh' work

By Carolyn McCardell
Contributing Writer

Friday, May 5, 2006

On Monday night, around 30 attendees gathered in Studio A for “Wet Ink” (advertised as “Fresh Ink”). The informal concert consisted of eight pieces written by students in Composition I, a class taught by Tim Mahr, professor of music and director of the St. Olaf Band. “Stygian Ripples,” by Blaise Douros '07, had a romantic flavor, and involved some 19th-century chromaticism while still sounding up-to-date. The piece started with an atmospheric piano line that was joined by strong viola and cello parts. Junior Mattia Smith's “Don't leave me __” was similar in mood and instrumentation. However, Smith's piano part alternated loud dissonant chords with quiet plinking. The piano was framed by an angular melodic motif fromthe violin and cello. The piece was more adventurous than Douros',but rougher in writing and delivery. “Quality Time” by Christy Mooers '08 was a playful crowd-pleaser, staged theatrically as a humorous family conversation which used only one pitch class (The musicians could only sing or play on one note or octaves of that note). “How was school?” sang soprano-Mom to guitar-son. “Bwarrp” the guitar responded monosyllabically, winning laughs as Granny (Sarah Johnson ‘08 in full constume) nosefluted inanely to herself. A bombastic younger-brother trumpeter interrupted, causing a fight and interesting rhythmic interplay between parts. “Rhythm Shadow” by Stuart Shrimpton '06 was a slightly jazzy piece with strings, brass, conga and jembe, and a winning performance on the alto saxophone from Justin Reiners ’06. The piece meandered in parts but had energetic textures and interesting thematic play. The piece had an engaging contrast in the smooth melodies of the sax over the pulsing rhythms in the upright bass, with occasional darts of dissonance. “The Bison Trail,” a trumpet solo by Conor Cook '09, evoked epic American landscapes of plains and Rocky Mountains. Sophomore Nathan Fivecoate's “A Modern Halling” introduced a lively folk-tune on fiddle, and explored variations on that theme with flute, bassoon, and brass. The program concluded with “Wabi-Sabi Songs,” a polished and inventive piece from Smith. The three songs, sung a capella, featured one soprano, alto, tenor and bass. The lyrics, from a poem by William Carlos Williams, were almost unintelligible, but the piece succeeded soaring polyphony, vocally percussive “shhhh”s and an eclectic aesthetic. The polished piece showed Smith's prowess and flair as a composer.

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