Concerts to feature composers from four universities

By Brooke McAfee

Musicians from four universities in the Midwest will collaborate in two days of concerts to present the work of student composers at the Midwest Composer’s Symposium, presented by the Jacobs School of Music.

“The whole idea is to make a connection, to share the composing experience and to make the Midwest area become a unity,” IU professor of composition P.Q. Phan said.

The event features performers and composers from IU, University of Cincinnati, University of Iowa and University of Michigan. The concerts are at 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. 
Saturday in Auer Hall.

The Midwest Composer’s Symposium began in 1948, and the host school rotates each year.

The event includes performances by the New Music Ensemble, the Brass Choir, NOTUS: Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, the Wind Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble and the Chamber Orchestra.

David Dzubay, director of the New Music Ensemble and chair of the composition department, said he is excited the performers, composers and faculty work together.

“It’s a terrific chance for students and faculty to get together and for student composers and performers to make new friends,” Dzubay said.

Phan, an organizer of the symposium, said it is helpful for student composers. The compositions are usually 
premiered at the event.

“This is a luxurious opportunity in a way, because when a student writes for an orchestra the student can’t necessarily get an ensemble to play it for them,” Phan said.

Not only does the event demonstrate the different styles of each university, but it also has a variety of students from the music school, including undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students, Phan said.

Although the Midwest Composer’s Symposium features performances from each university, it is not a competition, Phan said.

“What I’m looking forward to the most is to hear what artists from other schools can offer,” Phan said. “We encourage each other to know each other as friends and learn from each other.”

The collaboration allows for the students and faculty to have a fresh viewpoint and to compare and contrast, Phan said, so they can understand what they can and
cannot do yet.

The symposium also allows musicians to improve by performing new music, Phan said.

“They learn how to dissect a new piece better,” Phan said. “For performers, when they play a traditional composition, they tend to replicate it by ear, but with a new piece, it’s like, ‘Hey, I’ve never heard this thing before.’”

Phan said the participation of so many large ensembles is one of the most incredible things about IU, because each ensemble wants the university to be a good host and represent what the music school can do.

“It’s so important, not only because of its history, but because of its possibility to make a wonderful relationship among universities in the same area,” Phan said. “It’s so important because it’s the only time that our students can get a peek of what other universities are doing.”

© Indiana Daily Student 2015

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