Equinox Archive

Senior Nathaniel Bridges presents a recital of original compositions

Senior music student Nathaniel Bridges performed his Composition Recital titled, “Searching for Home” on Saturday, Feb. 26 in the Alumni Recital Hall.

The recital consisted of seven original compositions by Bridges and was performed by himself and other members of the KSC Music Department.

The recital opened with “Dancing Solo”, featuring soprano Alyssa Becker, flutist Madi Gubata and pianist Vladimir Odinokikh. According to Bridges, this piece hits all three goals he has when it comes to writing music. 

According to the program notes, those goals are, “1) Write music that has a life and soul to it’s melodies and gestures 2) Create a form and develop the piece in a way that truly suits the music and feels natural 3) Write music that pushes me compositionally but feels true to me.”  Bridges said the song itself is about celebrating life and the people in it, even if you have to go dancing solo. 

The next composition of the performance was “Empty”, played entirely by Odinokikh. Bridges said he wrote this composition at the end of 2020 and continued to work on it through fall 2021. The program notes stated how, “The piece emphasizes the feelings of anger and hollowness that accompany grief-but it is also about hope and getting through grief.” 

“Empty” consisted of various melodies and key changes. Bridges said he didn’t expect this composition to be as lengthy as it turned out to be, however; it worked well considering it’s simple structure. “I feel this piece harnesses what it has and uses it to great effect,” the program notes stated. 

The following composition titled, “Why?” featured Bridges’ on piano. Similar to “Empty”, “Why” was also about grief, but displays the need for explanation. Bridges wrote in the program notes, “This is the song that keeps me up at night. Because bitterness fades, and hope returns, but sometimes I still find myself asking why…why were these times ours to live through?” 

After intermission, came “Collage for Harp”, performed via video and featuring harpist Alix Raspé Gray. “I pushed through [this piece],” Bridges said. “We don’t have a harpist, but I was able to pay a harpist to record a piece for me. I [was] excited about that, it’s kind of a unique instrument.”  

The piece was called “Collage” because it contained three contrasting ideas, each representing flight but in a different context. The program notes state, “First, you hear dark, spacious, and mysterious- this theme represents a feeling of being detached…It is immediately followed by a softer, yet melancholy theme-the feeling of weightlessness when in love. The third theme…the feeling of flow and flight you can achieve on stage.”

The next piece titled, “Persistence” featured saxophonists Kevin Sonntag and Hannah Weber, along with Bridges on piano. “Persistence” was the first song Bridges wrote for a performance at KSC, pre-pandemic. 

Bridges said the pandemic and the first two years of college helped shape the meaning behind this piece, “I needed a lot of persistence to keep at it and keep having hope in the progress, but it started to pay off.” 

“One Day We Will Come Home” is the oldest composition of the program and featured Bridges on piano. The piece is about yearning and hoping for a place to call home. Bridges dedicated this piece to his grandparents that recently passed. “They were home for so many,” Bridges said. “They always made you feel welcome, seen, and loved.” 

The final composition titled, “Trio for Clarinet, Violin, and Piano” featured Violinist Dr. Paul Grobey, Odinokikh and Bridges on clarinet. This piece was written in fall 2020, the first semester after the start of pandemic. “It’s themes are about hope and joy, because despite everything , I felt hopeful and I wanted to write a piece to keep that spirit alive,” the program notes stated. 

Bridges described his experience composing over the years, “It’s interesting and it’s a challenge,” Bridges said. “There’s been a lot of emotions the last few years, a lot of difficult stuff going on. So a lot was based on that.” 

Bridges’ goal as a composer is to to start off with a musical idea that is attached to emotion. “A lot of the time it’s art and it’s attached to emotion or maybe a memory,” Bridges said. “The easy part is getting those basic ideas, but then the hard part is developing that and creating a full piece of music out of a few smaller ideas.” 

Dr. Heather Gilligan, who has helped guide Bridges through the composition process the past few years, describes him as a musician. “Nate is a curious and engaged student and a strong overall musician, both as a performer and composer” Gilligan said in an email sent to The Equinox. “I think that was evident in his recital as he presented a string portfolio of compositions.”

Gilligan said she is proud of Bridges’ overall progress the past few years. “Nate had strong composition skills coming into the program,” Gilligan stated. “It’s been rewarding to see him progress as he cultivates his compositional voice and expands his writing palette..I’m eager to see where he goes from here.” 

Dr. Justin Casinghino, Bridges’ composition professor, said he was impressed by Bridges’ overall style and vision of the compositions. In an email sent to the Equinox, Casinghino said, “I think that Nate has a keen sense of revisiting motives over time, allowing them to be recast with different harmonies and characters. Nate also has a tendency to play with rhythm in fun ways, keeping interest by subtle changes in his textures.”

Casinghino said he is also proud of Bridges’ progress as a composer. “Nate works hard… Composing successful pieces, pieces that keep us captivated… have a strong sense of form.” Casinghino said. “It truly is a labor of love…He truly cares about his music in every way, and that’s something to be proud of.”


Nicole Dumont can be contacted at


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