BY GRACE MANDATO – STAFF WRITER
Coleman Rowlett, a senior music composition major, will perform, conduct and showcase some of his work in a recital on Nov. 22 at 2:30 p.m. in Stretansky Concert Hall.
The recital consists of ten pieces that Rowlett composed. He will be performing a few songs, but he has also enlisted the assistance of other Susquehanna musicians to perform his pieces. In addition to that, Rowlett will be conducting two of his pieces.
The program begins with “Sonatina” which has two movements. Rowlett will play the saxophone with junior Tyler Mariano on the piano. “The first movement of the piece is designed to be quick and exciting,” Rowlett said. “The second movement uses traditional tonal harmony and adds extra tones to create tension for the listeners. The tension builds throughout until the end when the tension is released.”
The next piece “Miniatures for Piano” was written for junior pianist Alethea Khoo. “It’s three movements that are based around a collection of pitches,” Rowlett said. Khoo will perform the piece in the recital.
“The miniatures for piano that he wrote for me utilize innovative and modern techniques while maintaining familiar harmonies,” Khoo commented. She added about her experience working with Rowlett, “I think it is neat working with a composer because I can get direct input from the mind in which the music originated.”
The third piece, “Untitled,” was previously performed by SUSQ Quartet, a saxophone quartet that Rowlett was in his freshmen through junior years of college. “The piece is dedicated to the other three members of the SUSQ Quartet whom I had the honor and privilege to play with for three years,” Rowlett said. Two members, Parker Adel and Joshua Heaney, graduated last year. The final member, senior Cody Zahoroiko, will once again be performing “Untitled” alongside Rowlett. Sophomores Darby Orris and Luke Duceman are also performing this piece.
The fourth piece “The Legend of Evil,” has lyrics from the poem by Rudyard Kipling. “With composing, you have to write knowing what the strengths and weakness are of the instrument and the performer,” Rowlett said on the process of composing a piece. “So with vocal music, I feel like it is very important to know who you are writing it for because every human’s voice is different.” Senior Dante Donganiero will sing and Mariano will play piano.
“The Fondest of Memories” is the oldest of Rowlett’s pieces in the recital, composed in 2013. “The piece was written as a portrait of how simplifying things create beauty in the world,” Rowlett said. Senior Susan Safford and juniors Victoria Hogan, Rachel Snyder, Sarah Stine and Mariano will perform.
After an intermission, “Music for NAQOYQUATSI” will play. It is a visual performance from a project between the University Orchestra and composition studio in January 2013. Rowlett wrote a score for a clip from the film “NAQOYQUATSI.”
The next piece, “Septet,” is the first one that Rowlett will be conducting in the recital. The musicians playing are Safford, Stine, seniors Sarah White and Matthew Labar, juniors Margie Hislop and Michael Kaminski and first-year Carissa Sweet.
“Meditation” is a solo saxophone piece that Rowlett will perform. It was commissioned by Heaney and inspired by composers Ryo Noda and Toru Takemitsu. As stated by Rowlett, the piece “aims to explore a combination of traditional Japanese and modern
American aesthetics and represents a new compositional direction for me.”
The next piece, “Sic Transit” is from a Muriel Stuart poem. Rowlett mentioned he wanted to write a piece for piano and soprano voice, and then he went on a public domain website and read poems until he found one that he liked. Stine will sing while Khoo plays the piano.
Stine said, “I think that [Rowlett] writes very captivating, creative music.” She added: “[Rowlett] is very good at communicating his ideas for pieces, and he is also willing to change things based on the performer’s input, which is a great thing. It allows for a real synergy between the composer, performer and the music.”
The final piece in the recital is “Suite for Saxophone Ensemble” with three movements titled “Fanfare,” “Folk Song” and “Finale” and will be conducted by Rowlett. The piece was commissioned by Gail Levinsky, associate professor of music.
The second movement was inspired by the folk music of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Shenandoah Valley where Rowlett grew up.
White and Zahoroiko, junior Tia Kissinger, sophomores Jessica Portzline, Duceman and Orris and first-years Jonathan Deysher and Emma Mooradian will perform it.
A total of nineteen Susquehanna students will be performing in his recital.
“Working with Coleman has been fantastic,” Mariano said. “He knows what he wants as a composer and he has lead us in the right direction during rehearsals.”
Rowlett is grateful for the musicians’ help and says “thank you to all of those involved in this process of creating music.”
The process of choosing pieces for the recital required Rowlett to make lists of his strongest pieces and see which instruments he had too much of and which instruments he didn’t use. He wanted a balance.
Patrick Long, associate professor of music, assisted with the process. “The pieces on this program represent his strongest work,” Long said. He added: “Coleman’s music has great expressive resonance. Musicians enjoy performing it, and audiences find it engaging and often quite moving. I’m sure that it will be a memorable event for all.”