What’s new in the music composition world these days? Funny you should ask. A quartet of graduate students from the University’s music department unveiled their recent compositions at a Penn Composer’s Guild concert this past weekend.
The performances took place inside Fisher-Bennett Hall’s Rose Recital Hall and ran the gamut from vocal to solo piano to a sextet. The composers themselves were equally diverse:
- Melissa Dunphy Gr’13, who wrote Tesla’s Pigeon to reflect the unusual relationship between scientist/inventor Nikola Tesla and his favorite white dove, has had her choral work The Gonzales Cantata featured on The Rachel Maddow Show and reviewed in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, and Harper’s Magazine, among others.
- For Treasure Box, Ke-Chia Chen Gr’13 wrote a set of short pieces for solo piano designed to explore the technical facility and musical characteristics of the piano. Chen’s compositions have been performed throughout the country, and her orchestral work, Broken Crystal, won the Indianapolis Symphony’s 2009 Marilyn K. Glick Young Composer Award.
- Tony Solitro Gr’13, composer of Impromptu & Rondo featuring piano and violoncello, writes both acoustic and electroacoustic music. He won Penn’s Helen L. Weiss Award for vocal compositions for his piece War Wedding for piano and tenor, commissioned by American tenor Justin Vickers.
- Sextet: Water Music, by Scott Ordway Gr’13, closed the concert, described in the program as “fast, colorful, occasionally virtuosic and rhythmically motivated.” Ordway has conducted more than 30 world premiere performances in recent years, and previously served as music director of the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. His works range from symphonies to chamber pieces to vocal music to collaborations with sound and video artists.
I recorded some of the performances and put them together in the following video. Maybe one of these young composers will become the next Grammy-winning Penn grad.