Eastern Michigan University’s music and dance department kicked off its three day biennial Music Now Fest with “Chamber Music of Steven Stucky,” Wednesday night in Pease Auditorium.
Steven Stucky, 65, is the featured composer this year.
“He’s arguably one of the greatest living American composers. Not only has he won a Pulitzer, but he’s just been very active in supporting new music and is a real advocate for new music,” said Dr. Mary Schneider, chair of the Music Now committee.
The evening started with a pre-concert talk. Willard Zirk, professor of music theory and literature, facilitated the talk.
“In the music department, we’re trying to expose our students to all sorts of music. Not just classical. This is one avenue that we can use. He’s one of the great contemporary classical composers,” Zirk said.
Sophomore Evan Balash, tuba performance major, said listening to Stucky’s music after hearing him talk about it gives it more meaning.
“You never really think when you’re listening to music about what happened when someone was writing it. Just in the brief time that we’ve had with Steven Stucky, already he’s shown us exactly what goes through his head when he’s writing something,” Balash said.
After the talk, faculty and guest artists performed six of Stucky’s pieces.
Dr. Robert Peavler performed in “At The Bar,” a scene from The Classical Style: An Opera (Of Sorts).
“We feel privileged to bring someone with international stature to work with us as faculty artists,” Peavler said. “Also, to work with our students and have time for them to really talk with him and listen to him and his views on music. For many students, this is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience to have up close and personal time with such a well known composer.”
Stucky said he’s been impressed by the festival so far.
“It’s very well organized and there’s a lot of variety in the kinds of events. There’s a huge audience of students today for the first talk,” Stucky said. “There’s very nice, serious, friendly attitudes among all the student musicians in rehearsals. There’s lot of talent [here].”
Students from the music department at Michigan State University came to Eastern Michigan University for the festival.
Ricardo Lorenz, associate professor of composition and chair of the composition area, said Stucky won “Composer Idol,” their music department’s version of “American Idol” last year.
“He’s really big right now because he’s a living composer and a lot of what we hear most of the time in the music world is not by living composers,” said Lena Miles, senior at Michigan State University, music composition and education major.