“United We Stand” provides venue for student composition

by Mac Emery | 3/4/15 6:30pm

The motto “United We Stand” receives plenty of verbal attention, but perhaps, at times, it is best portrayed through the combination of diverse, yet unified, musical sounds.

This Sunday in the Collis Common Ground, three student groups will perform their own original pieces during the “United We Stand” event. The succinct but diverse repertoire will showcase an original composition by Ningjie Cao ’16, who goes by the name Lanphord, and his band Winterhill, an improvisation by an ensemble under digital music graduate student Carlos Dominguez and a group of four others and a new composition by student band the Euphemisms.

Classical music student relations adviser Mallory Rutigliano ’17 said that the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which aims to promote classical music and the performing arts among students on campus, sponsored the event.

The show will begin with an original composition by Winterhill. Though Cao normally composes the band’s music in its entirety, the group as a whole was more involved in the creation of this piece, Winterhill guitarist Lloyd May ’18 said.

The song aims to creatively blend the instrumentation in new ways, May said. Altering some of the band’s usual instrumental lineup, the performance features May on the lap guitar, Will Tackett ’18 on the harmonica and mandolin, Cao on the piano, Zoe Sands ’18 as the vocals and Tommy Hodsden ’18 using cups and spoons as non-traditional percussion, May said.

“We tried to use instruments in an unconventional way,” May said. “For example, for the first portion of the song, we use the guitar and piano for percussion, as opposed to melody.”

Despite this experimental recombination, the song will adhere to a recognizable pop sensibility that prevents the piece from being too unapproachable, May said.

The second act of the night will be an improvisatory effort under Dominguez. Although the performance is listed under Dominguez’s name, it is in fact a collaboration between Dominguez and an ensemble of digital music graduate students Kyle Kaplan, Victor Shepardson and Ezra Teboul and Angela Kim, who is also a member of the Class of 1999.

In the ensemble’s performance, all the members will participate in the formation of the sound and how the performance unfolds, Dominguez said.

Dominguez said that the group employs an “electro-acoustic” style and tampers with electronic modification in the speakers. A single flutist will play into a microphone. One of the feeds from this microphone will travel directly to the speakers, while the other feeds will redirect to the remainder of the ensemble, which will then electronically distort the output that returns to the speakers, Dominguez said.

The group uses an assortment of laptops, controllers, mixers and effect pedals to improvise its sound, Dominguez said.

The final performance of the night is a new piece by campus band the Euphemisms. Though the band typically specializes in covering the popular work of other musicians, the “United We Stand” event presented a new opportunity for the band to venture into original composition, Euphemisms drummer Moises Silva ’16 said.

The composition is a pastiche of different sounds and influences blended into a single song. It meshes different rhythms, including funk, jazz and Latin, Silva said.

“For this, the essence of the event was composition and musicianship,“ Silva said.

Silva said this was his first experience in original composition for him.

“I didn’t know that I could just pull out ideas I’ve had in my head, I guess, from listening to different types of music,” Silva said.

Though the program only includes three groups, the musical range featured is broad. This variety ultimately endeavors to uphold and enrich the diversity of music, particularly classical composition, on campus, Rutigliano said.

“It’s probably best described as a compilation of all these different varieties and sounds,” Rutigliano said.

Silva said that there will be diversity in the individual pieces and the event overall.

“You get to see different spectrums of music,” Silva said.

In addition to sampling a range of student music outside school ensembles and presenting students with an opportunity to perform their compositions, the event also provides an opportunity to experience the art of others and learn their perspectives, Rutigliano said.

“People come from all different backgrounds and have all different lives,” Rutigliano said. “But one thing that brings people together is art and experiencing other people’s art and learning different perspectives.”

The “United We Stand” event begins at 7 p.m. and will be free and open to students.