Soren Franz / Photo Editor

Erin McNemar

Managing Executive Editor

The student composers closed the year out with a bang as they joined forces with the Keene State College Percussion Ensemble for their final recital.

On Thursday, May 2, family and friends filled the Alumni Recital Hall to hear the groups perform both original works and rhythmic pieces. The evening began with showcasing many of the student composers as faculty members performed their self-composed music. The first composer who presented was junior and music technology major Brandon Curcio. “I had to write [the piece] for a class so I guess I came up with one idea and fleshed it out a bit and then I added on extra layers of harmony,” Curcio said.

Curcio’s piece, “The Burden of the Orb,” was performed by staff and faculty members Craig Sylvern on the baritone saxophone, George Robinson on the vibraphone and Christopher Evatt on the piano. Curcio said he enjoyed hearing his original music brought to life through the performance. “It’s pretty cool, especially haring the faculty playing it because they’re incredible. It has the most potential in those hands,” Curcio said.

Overall, Curcio said he was happy with how his piece came out and how it was performed for the audience. “I think it came out really good. There was nothing that caught my attention [for] being wrong. I would think if anyone noticed it would have been me,” Curcio said.

Fellow composition student and junior Kirsten Becker also showcased an original work in the recital. Becker’s piece, “Water’s Edge” featured KSC student Madison Shimko on flute and Becker herself on piano. “I had a semester’s worth of lessons once a week with my composition teacher. I took me six weeks to write the piece and probably 20 hours of work went into it. I composed by sitting down at my piano with a piece of staff paper,” Becker said.

Becker said she originally wrote the song for piano but she thought it would sound beautiful if she added a flute part to it. It was then that she approached Shimko, who is one of Becker’s good friends in the music department, and asked if she would be willing to play the piece with her. “We had about three rehearsals to get it worked out,” Becker said.

Becker was one of two composers that performed their original work on stage themselves. “I actually get more nervous performing my own piece onstage because there is an added pressure  of not only you being the performer but also being the composer. You’re thinking in two worlds at the same time. You want to audience to understand the idea of the piece as well you don’t want to mess it up. I got more nervous than normal,” Becker said.

Despite getting nervous, Becker said she was proud of how her performance came out. “I think there are always things as a performer you want to change, but overall I was really happy with how it came out,” Becker said.

After intermission, the performance showcased more of the KSC Percussion Ensemble. First-year Paulryan Chipman said this was his first time taking Percussion Ensemble as a class. “It’s one of the many ensembles a student can take. You can either take ensemble for credit or no credit, I wanted to get the points. I absolutely love it,” Chipman said.

Chipman said he wanted to take the class after seeing the group perform last semester. “They were playing with lighters and actual fire and attacking each other with stands. I thought ‘I want to do that.’ You didn’t end up doing it this semester but I’m going to try to get the fire back,” Chipman said.

During the first part of the evening, the percussion ensemble played contemporary pieces composed of sounds such as rubbing drumsticks on the floor of the stage and blowing into conch shells. “We had those really contemporary pieces that we played in the beginning. Those sounds we found from the heart. People were scratching their nails on chalk boards and that was the sound coming from the heart,” Chipman said.

The ensemble’s last piece was composed by KSC Senior Geoffrey Edwards, “What is Heard, is Felt.” Chipman said learning that piece was his favorite part of the experience. “My favorite part is getting to know the composers we had been playing with through the music they have given us. Getting to work with Geoff on this last piece was the best. To get the composer right there with you is groovy,” Chipman said.

Chipman said a lot of work went into making sure the concert was a success. The group spent a lot of time practicing outside of class, according to Chipman. “We wanted to make sure the concert was extra special and had an extra little kick in there. The last couple weeks we tried to make it absolutely perfect for you guys,” Chipman said. “I think the show went fantastic. Lots of pats on the back for me and the guys and gals. A lot of good things.”

Erin McNemar

can be contacted at

emcnemar@kscequinox.com