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Ouachita Stories


Composers Symposium to showcase student compositions March 31

March 20, 2009 - Ariel Bealer

Ouachita Baptist University’s School of Fine Arts Division of Music will host its annual composers symposium at 7:30 p.m. on March 31 in Jones Performing Arts Center on Ouachita’s campus. The symposium will showcase compositions written by OBU students.

The composers symposium was started by Dr. Francis McBeth more than 40 years ago.

“This year we’ll have five students represented,” said Dr. Patrick Houlihan, professor of music.

The composers are seniors Matt Duckworth from White Hall, Ark.; Jeremy Garrett from Garland, Texas; and Matt Landers from Dallas, Texas; junior Sarah Wood from Dallas, Texas, and sophomore Nathan Courtright from Rowlett, Texas.

The composers have spent at least a semester working on the compositions, drawing inspiration from various sources.

Landers and Wood said they like to find inspiration by listening to their favorite composers. Duckworth said he once composed a piece directly inspired by author Ayn Rand.

However, Duckworth doesn’t see composing as a strictly creative process. “Usually I don’t need to be inspired,” he said. “Composition majors compose about every day, so we have to learn to write even when we don’t feel very creative.”

The process of writing compositions is built up over six semesters of composition classes and studying a primary and secondary instrument. Rather than using a general method, each work requires something different.

“Instrumental composition is the most abstract of all arts, which may have to do with why it’s so difficult to talk about the process,” Houlihan said. “We spend a lot of time studying technique, the different elements of music that contemporary composers use a lot, as well as studying scores of other composers.”

The Composers Symposium provides the opportunity for students to share their hard work with others. The first half of the concert features chamber music, and in the second half either the Ouachita Singers or the Wind Ensemble performs.

This year the Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. Craig Hamilton, will be playing the composers’ ensemble pieces.

“Most schools that have a music program big enough to do this also have graduate programs and when it comes to having works performed by ensembles it’s almost always for the grad students,” Houlihan said. “It’s a pretty unique opportunity that our students get to have ensemble works and choral works performed.”

The program will begin with Garrett’s “Spark,” performed by Kristin Grant on flute and Glenda Aldridge on piano, followed by Wood’s “The Great Escape,” performed by Natalie Gaunt McCallister on violin, Julie Tucker on cello and Natalie Carroll on piano. Landers’ “In the Presence of the Lord” will then be performed by Carrie Brown on piano and soprano vocalist Chelsea Cunningham. Courtright’s “Clouds” will be performed next by Kristin Grant on flute and C.E. Fifer on piano, followed by Kristin Cordell performing Duckworth’s composition, “Music for Piano, No.1.”

The Ouachita Wind Ensemble will conclude the concert with performances of Landers’ “At One Time,” Duckworth’s “Israel’s Song,” and Garrett’s “Dance.”

The symposium is free and open to the public. For more information, contact OBU’s School of Fine Arts at (870) 245-5129.


by Ariel Bealer