Valentine’s Day Student Composers Concert Celebrates The Love Of Music Valentine's Day Student Composers Concert Celebrates The Love Of Music

Students both performed and composed completely original music.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)  Dr. Nicolas Scherzinger was planning the first of two annual concerts for Syracuse University music composition students, the date happened to fall on Valentine’s Day.

Scherzinger wasn’t sure how to tie in the theme when none of the students’ songs were about love. But his students said the date felt right to them.

“It’s a very diverse concert, because the personality of each composer comes through in each case.” -Dr. Nicolas Scherzinger

“When you think about Valentine’s Day we think about things like love or maybe a bond that we have with somebody in relationships and things like that. Those are all things that we certainly end up doing as composers and performers all the time,” he said.

This year’s Valentine’s Day student composers concert took place at 8 p.m. in the Setnor School of Music. All 12 composers were either music composition majors or studying composition as a music performance student.

One of these performers was senior voice performance major, Tara Sandlin. This was Sandlin’s fourth time performing in the student composer concert which usually takes place during the second week in February.

This year she, along with Hannah Dale Scarborough, performed a piece entitled, “Thy Name Shall Live.” What made this song unique is that Scarborough is also the composer of the song.

“I’ve worked with Hannah before and because of that she knows how my voice works and how to make it sound the best,” Sandlin said.

Sandlin said working with a student composer can normally go one of three ways:

  1. The composer will either request the musician to perform exactly what is written on the page, similar to any other piece of sheet music.

  2. It will be a workshop type of session when the performer and composer will work together so the performer is having fun and the composer expresses what they want to express.

  3. Sandlin’s case: provided texts and themes she wanted in the song and Scarborough wrote the song.

For Addison Flower, she tackled both composing and performing in the concert. Her biggest worry as a performer was making sure that the music sounded “right.” But as a composer she struggled the most with getting the sound she was hearing in her head down on paper.

“A lot of composers have that struggle where it’s really easy to come up with an idea or a melody, but to actually put it on paper and decide how it’s going to look and how it’s going to make sense to the performer is the most difficult part,” she said.

She composed the song “Iris” to be played on the piano. She got the inspiration for the piece from a class assignment.

A girl standing at a marimba with a music stand
Addison Flower both performed and composed one of her own songs for the concert. She played percussion in a song entitled, “The Ballad of the Boy and the Rattles.”
© 2023 Brittany Miller

“We were looking at this specific composer from the 1920s and we had to write something inspired by his music,” she said. “So I wrote a 15 second song that I ended up really liking, and then I wrote more until I had a full song.”

The songs performed varied to sometimes include only voice, only instruments or both.

One performance was an old Cherokee story narrated with music playing in the background.

Scherzinger said this is what makes this concert so unique because it’s all original music that no one has ever heard of before.

“It’s a very diverse concert, because the personality of each composer comes through in each case, but then also the personalities of the performer comes through and it’s a kind of a special evening of hearing a whole bunch of different kinds of music,” he said.

Tara: So I’ve been involved with working with student composers for the last three years out of the last 4 years at SU. But the piece that I’m singing tonight is one that I commissioned for one of the student composers and it premiered on a performance for my honors thesis in December. And now we’re doing it again tonight. So this has been in progress since the summer, but I’ve been working with other composers for a few years now.

Addison: Well me and Jess, the pianist, have been good friends and she was super excited to work on my piece. And she’s a really amazing pianist. Really we just like met up a couple of times to make sure the phrasing was right. Once you get to a certain level, some things matter more than making sure it sounds right. So yeah, it was great working with her.

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