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ISSUE 116 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/21/2003

Blame it on the bossa ‘Nova’

By Carl Schroeder
Contributing Writer

Friday, February 21, 2003

There were many indications — blood-curdling screams emanating from the stage of Urness Recital Hall, sound equipment filling vast portions of Studio A, and jazz professor Dave Hagedorn's sudden penchant for Granny Smith apples — that St. Olaf’s unpredictable student composers were up to more than just their usual tricks over Interim.

Muziko Nova, St. Olaf’s new student music organization, sponsored a series of recording sessions throughout January for "Music from the Hill,” a new CD by St. Olaf student composers. Composers and performers of all classes participated in the project, and recorded acoustic music in a wide variety of styles. These styles included jazz, classical, experimental and popular. Several students enrolled in Professor Peter Hamlin's "Music in the Electronic Medium" Interim class submitted music as well.

The Muziko Nova organization, led by Carl Schroeder '05, has been hard at work for several months, laying the groundwork for a0 CD of music by current student composers. Last December, the Paul and Anne Finstad Office approved a grant to finance the CD’s recording and production costs. The project gained momentum when nationally renowned composer Mary Ellen Childs, whose composition "Zephyrus" was recently premiered by the St. Olaf Band, agreed to review and select submissions for the CD. Professional recording engineer Joshua Wyatt '05 supplied audio equipment and held a series of recording sessions in various St. Olaf performance spaces throughout January.

All composers were responsible for finding their own performers and organizing rehearsals.

“I think the CD was a wonderful opportunity for composers to have the experience of recording and mixing their music, as well as seeing the end result mass produced on a CD,” said Tim Bradley ‘04 whose string quintet “Echoes of Adagio” was recorded for the project. “I don't believe many composers here would have had that opportunity otherwise.”

The project attracted a wide variety of St. Olaf student composers, who in turn brought a diverse array of new music to life during Interim.

Amanda Wessel '04 who was recently named Collegiate Composer of the Year by the Minnesota Music Educators Association, pulled her performers away from the Jan. 19 Emmy Awards broadcast long enough to record her new work "Lamb of God." The piece is an excerpt of text from Isaiah that has been adapted to performance by chorus and strings.

Michael Smith ‘05 collaborated with his roommate Kevin Scheible '05 to create "Cut Deep," an electronic composition based on writings by Scheible.

For Eric James '06, the Music from the Hill project provided a chance to build first-year camaraderie. His composition "Sebastian and Vincent" was performed by a chamber ensemble of 11 musicians from the freshman class, all of whom live in Ellingson Hall.

Among the other musicians who contributed to the project were Carl Holmquist '05, Kristen Graves '04, Aubrey Barnard '05, Nick Giuliani ’04 and Seniors Jocelyn Hagen and Kristin Roust, both of whom will be presenting senior composition recitals on campus during March.

“The Music from the Hill project gave composers beginning experience in logistical issues as far as engineering their music,” Wessel said. “Rehearsing, recording, and mixing are necessary skills every composer must have, whether they're composing for movies, plays, or the concert hall.”

By the time that January’s long hours had begun to dwindle, 20 compositions had been submitted to Childs, 16 of which will be included on "Music from the Hill.”

The "Music from the Hill" CD release event, which is scheduled for 9 p.m. in Urness Recital Hall on Feb. 25, will feature live performances by various artists featured on the CD. Proceeds from the sale of the CD will fund future St. Olaf music projects and events.

For more information, visit the “Music from the Hill” web site at

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