New music on show by dance, creative writing, composition students

Music, poetry and dance will combine for a contemporary performance courtesy the Sam Houston State University New Music Lab, as they hold the Ars Perpetua Student Composition Recital on Thursday.

The program features various compositions by students under Kyle Kindred, D.M.A., associate professor of music and director of composition studies, some of which are being heard for the very first time.

Brian Herrington, Ph.D., adjunct instructor of music theory and composition and director of the New Music Lab, is conducting the event.

Sophomore music major Kevin Bailey has a piece being performed and said new music is interesting to compose and perform.

“There’s honestly no limit to what you can come up with,” Bailey said. “All the performers are up for trying new things on their instruments and exploring music in a new way.”

It took Bailey around a week to compose his piece in a process he described as a religious experience. Bailey also said composing without limitations can be hard to write since there is no structure. He said the process can be overwhelming but exciting at the same time.

“Complete and total anarchy is something that I try to avoid when writing,” Bailey said. “But on the other hand, it’s extremely exciting to come up with new ideas and push the envelope. It just depends on my mood and the piece.”

All in all, Bailey is eager for tonight’s performance. Not only is his composition being performed – his tenth since enrolling at SHSU – but he is also playing the piano, which is not his primary instrument.

Students from both the dance and creative writing programs will join Herrington’s students for the evening’s performances.

“This program marks our first major interdisciplinary collaboration, in this case with dance and creative writing,” Herrington said. “Plans for this began last semester when I reached out to Erin Reck in Dance and Dr. Nick Lantz in the English Department. Dr. Kyle Kindred, head of composition studies in the school of music, led all of the student composers to create short pieces in response to the poetry.”

The musicians and dancers teamed up to explore musical rhythms and biological rhythms in “Our Bodies Are Our Gardens (2015).” The musicians were forced out of their comfort zones as they spread about the dancers’ performing space.

“Our musicians worked out an improvised composition in class,” Herrington said. “Then we joined the dancers in their performance space. The result is not [only] an intimate interaction of all performers, but also a stereo effect in the musical performance.”

Another project titled “He Looked Every Dog in the Eye: A Suite of Twitter Poems (2015)“ has been worked on since early this semester. Creative writing students posted short poems on Twitter, which will then play an important role for the music students, according to Herrington.

“These incredibly short poems range from remarkable observations drawn from daily life to intense flashes of emotion,” Herrington said. “Our student composers selected their favorite poems and created background music to be heard while they are recited.”

These performances come as a result of the New Music Lab that attracts students who employ unconventional thinking in their performances.

“The New Music Lab is a musical ensemble devoted to contemporary improvisation and new works by student composers,” Herrington said. “It tends to attract students interested in thinking outside-the-box and those who enjoy interesting collaborations.”

Herrington said the performance will be one to remember.

“It features music, dance and poetry created by their fellow students,” Herrington said. “Many aspects of the work will be improvised before the audience’s eyes, which is guaranteed to create an electric performance.”

Their performance is slated to start at 4 p.m. in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

Admission is free and open to the public.

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