Musicians broaden horizons with new compositions

Students often associate the USF School of Music with classical and orchestral pieces and large concert halls filled with musicians dressed in tuxedos and elegant black dresses. USF’s New-Music Consortium (NMC) is interested in turning those associations on their ear.

As the president of NMC and a graduate student in music composition, Tyler Kline is dedicated to seeking out and nurturing newer, younger compositions.

“We are interested in performing music from the past 50 to 100 years. Lately we’ve been doing newer stuff from the last 15 years,” Kline said. “It is music that normally wouldn’t be programmed by any other ensembles or students or faculty at school, so we’ve found our niche in that.”

On Friday, the organization will be holding a free concert, “ALIVE” at Barness Recital Hall. After sending out an international call for scores, the club was excited to receive over 200 submissions. 

“We launched it early this semester — a call for scores from every nationality, and any age composer in two categories: acoustic and electronic. We rated each piece and basically made a system to narrow it down for us, and we ended up having an hour-long meeting trying to decide,” Kline said. “There were five pieces that we were deliberating and really fighting for, but we could only pick one and a lot of great pieces were excluded.” 

Kline said the winning compositions, “Ecosystem” from Nicaraguan-American composer Gabriel Bolanos and “Anthozoa” from Australian composer Daniel Blinkhorn, were chosen because of how well they paired with guest composer David Liptak. 

“We chose the ones that we thought would contrast with our guest composer’s pieces, and would also be fresh and exciting and represent what we aim for as an organization,” Kline said. “We could have had a whole concert of just those pieces (we deliberated on), and it would have been a great concert, but that was not possible.”

The music chosen by NMC is commonly called experimental, but Kline doesn’t want to marginalize what is being performed.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions with that kind of music,” he said. “People don’t like what is different. I think if people listen to it and give it a chance, it is like learning a new language.”

Alex Ravitz, a graduate student in clarinet performance and orchestral conducting and secretary of NMC, is focused on broadening the minds of those who might not normally be exposed to new music.

“I think people should want to experience this because it is what is happening now. You can go see a symphony orchestra play a piece that is 200 years old and it sounds like its 200 years old, or you can come see this type of concert,” Ravitz said. “This is the music that is happening in our age, right now, in our time. And there is no replacement for that. There is no replacement for seeing it unfold as it happens.”

Liptak composed Ravitz’s performance piece, “Commedia,” which Ravitz said audiences will identify with. 

“The piece I’m playing is interesting because this music is very modern. It’s a sort of musical portrayal of the 16th century ‘comedia del arte,’ which is a genre of plays,” Ravitz said. “Each of the movements takes on the personality of a different character, and (Liptak) does it in such a masterful way that you can really hear what’s going on, and I guess it would be called a character piece.  The piece is just so masterfully put together in this way and all three instruments play off of each other. It’s really fascinating because it’s not inaccessible to someone who is not used to this kind of music.” 

Brett Copeland, a graduate student in tuba performance and member of NMC’s production board, enjoys seeing more interest in new compositions because he said young people can really identify with their message. 

“I think it relates to what is going on today,” he said. “You can connect more with it because you’re around what created the music, and you’re alive while the composer is alive.”

The concert begins Friday at 7:30 p.m and is free and open to the public.