Keene State College senior Jonathan Way shared a story of personal inspiration and love through his art on Saturday, April 30 in front of an audience of friends and family.
To fulfill a requirement for his bachelor’s degree in music, Way conducted his senior composition recital in the Alumni Recital Hall of the Redfern Arts Center. Way wrote all of the music performed, asked musicians to play the music and organized rehearsal times prior to the show.
Way said, “The music that I’ve had performed has been a culmination of all the music I’ve written in my four years of college here.”
Each musical piece told a different story for Way, most sharing a central theme of love and romance. For example, one of the pieces entitled A Lost Love was written as a representation of a relationship. The harmonies were intended to inspire feelings of seeing a loved one. Way explained the first three pieces were based on life experiences.
“The three pieces in the beginning were personal things that happened in my life that led me to want to write, and the emotions fueled me to write,” Way said.
The beginning trio also featured Lament, which Way composed in his first-year on Valentine’s Day, and Romance for a Dinner, which was Way’s first string quartet inspired by a girl he dated who was a dance major. The girl had loved to dance to music like the waltz and Way said he was inspired to write a piece with a similar sound.
These performances then led up to Way’s grand piece entitled Nine Reports on the Heart, which was a piece he said that he had worked on since sophomore and was inspired by the video game “Kingdom Hearts.”
“My big piece, ‘Nine Reports on the Heart’ was based off the story of that video game that inspired me to write my own music because I love the soundtrack from that game so much,” Way said. “That really inspired me to become a composer.”
He said the pressure behind sharing his pieces as “nerve racking” because he was not performing the music himself.
“I feel like if you perform music yourself it’s kind of on you in how that music is conveyed,” Way said. “But when you write the music and hand it to someone else you can guide them into how you want it to sound, but really the overall performance is up to the players and you just have to sit back and let it happen.”
Way said that he had to keep in mind that no one in the audience had heard his music, and that he was not sure how everyone was going to react.
According to Way, the recruiting of musicians began at the beginning of the semester, with the construction and selection of the music finishing around February. Way said rehearsal began around the time of spring break. With KSC having a smaller music program, Way and the musicians were a tight knit group with everybody knowing each other and had a tangible chemistry on stage.
“It was like having all of my friends perform my music so it was nice to have that connection with them too,” Way said.
One of the singers who took part in the performance was Way’s roommate and tenor singer Dimitrios Kapoukranidis. Kapoukranidis is a fellow senior and composer who helped Way with some of his writing. He said it was special to be a part of his friend’s growth as an artist in a performance that meant so much to him.
“I’m a composer myself so we interact a lot [and] we bounce ideas off each other,” Kapoukranidis said. “It was really cool to see his growth over the last few years that I’ve known him and then get to experience it all at once and be a part of it. To see him grow and expand in his art was really special.”
Kapoukranidis sang in A Lost Love.
In regards to working with Way on stage, junior Danielle St. Amand and sophomore Joe Conti said it was fun being able to interpret Way’s story as musicians. In the recital, St. Amand played the flute and Conti played the trumpet as parts of Nine Reports of the Heart.
St. Amand said, “I thought it was very interesting to work with the actual composer because as musicians we don’t always get to do that so I really liked hearing his point of view on how we were playing his piece.”
Although the Alumni Recital Hall was not packed, Way said the people represented in the crowd were his closest friends and family.
“I would rather have a small group of people that I want to hear the music than a large crowd of people that I don’t know,” Way said.
Nick Tocco can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org