Novus had the great pleasure of being in residence at Dickinson College last month. It was a week of incredibly productive collaborations and interactions with students and faculty. We talked to the choir about blend and balance, performed and gave feedback on student compositions, collaborated with the Department of Theater and Dance on two pieces, worked with the brass students and much, much more.
Flight of the Four Kings
In Flight of the Four Kings, the trombone quartet written for us by Chris Brubeck, we collaborated with dancers from the college. Several months ago we sent a recording of the piece to Dawn Springer at Dickinson. Dawn selected dancers and developed choreography to enhance the music. This semester Sarah Skaggs, director of dance at Dickinson, took over the work and spearheaded an incredible performance.
Oedipus at Colonus
Another exciting collaboration was on Robert Pound’s Oedipus at Colonus. Several years ago Robert composed incidental music for the Sophocles play for which the work is named. He chose to write for oboe and harp, and trombone quartet because of their links with ancient instruments. For this production Dickinson professors Sherry Harper-McCombs and Karen Kirkham led college actors in performing excerpts from the play to go along with Robert’s music and even had students construct masks for the performance. Benjamin Farrar, another Dickinson faculty member, did lighting design for this as well as the entire concert. Meghan Levy, a Dickinson alum, created images to be projected during each segment.
A highlight of the performance was Classics professor Marc Mastrangelo’s delivery of Oedipus’s curse of Polyneices. Here’s a clip from the tech rehearsal:
We also took the piece to the college library where we performed excerpts, the composer discussed the construction of the piece, Marc talked about the importance of the play and students recited lines.
We spent much of our time at the college when we weren’t rehearsing talking to students in various classes. Other than the work we did with the choir, composition and brass students, we also talked to a music theory class about Webern’s Langsamer Satz, a music appreciation class about life as a musician, and middle and high school band students about everything from the trombone to practice habits to careers in music.
All this hard work was capped off with a concert on the final day. The students performed superbly and Novus filled out the program with works by John Orfe, JacobTV, Eve Beglarian and Webern. Thanks to everyone at Dickinson who made this possible starting with everyone mentioned above and also: Stacy Rohrer, Keith Novak, Amy Wlodarski, Blake Wilson and Blanka Bednarz.