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Student composers’ works performed by Cleveland Chamber Symphony

Brandon Bell

Contributing Writer

On March 24, Wooster Music Composition majors Joseph Caffrey ’16 and Steven Hecking ’15 had their works performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony as part of an event for young composers.

Inspired by their independent study projects with Professor of Music Jack Gallagher, both Caffrey and Hecking submitted their works for the NEOSonicFest event. They were two of only five college students from the area to have their works performed.

“Dr. Gallagher suggested that I enter the contest,” Caffrey said of how he first heard of and entered the event. “I submitted it, and I didn’t think I would win. It was unexpected.”

Caffrey intended his composition, titled “Thinking,” to be a “simple melody” that develops throughout the piece, mirroring the development of an idea in the mind. At the end, the piece fades, the idea is repeated once again, and then, in his own words, “it is gone.” To achieve this effect, Caffrey used glissando, a musical technique where one pitch slides to another.

While Caffrey may have described his composition as based on a “simple idea,” by his own admission, it was not simple to produce. Caffrey described some of the difficulties that entering the event posed.

“The challenge is, you are [usually] given a medium,” Caffrey said of the usual guidelines for similar music events. “[This event] didn’t give us any stipulation on style … or what I could use in the percussion department.”

Caffrey also discussed what is apparently a universal truth of compositions — they are the product of many drafts and much attention to detail.

Hecking’s work is titled “Immortal Renewal” and is a movement of the larger work “Collapse and Resurrection,” for a chamber orchestra, which Hecking composed for his I.S. The series of movements is based on Ragnarök, the Norse myth of the apocalypse.

Besides “Collapse and Resurrection,” Hecking began drafting and composing other pieces to include in his composition I.S. early in his Wooster education. These pieces include “Mischief,” for woodwind quintet, which he completed in 2013, and “Metamorphosis,” for an unaccompanied chorus, which he completed in 2014.

“I took it upon myself to really step out of my comfort zone as a composer and reach for something much more ‘avant garde’ than I had ever done before,” said Hecking. “I believe the benefits I’ve seen from pushing myself in this way are incredibly valuable.”

This Sunday, April 12, Hecking will present “Mischief,” “Metamorphosis” and “Collapse and Resurrection” at 4 p.m. in the Gault Recital Hall of Scheide Music Center. Each of the pieces will be directed by Hecking and performed by students of the College. He recruited 33 students at the beginning of the semester to attend weekly practices where Hecking taught his own music to some of the College’s musicians. Refreshments will also be served after the conclusion of Hecking’s senior recital.

As can be expected, both have extensive backgrounds in music. Hecking is a part of the Wooster Chorus, which recently completed its 2015 Spring Tour and is the outgoing music director of Wooster’s a cappella group The Merry Kuween of Skots. During his sophomore year, Hecking was also one of the Scot Marching Band’s drum majors. Caffrey, a percussion and composition double major, has been a member of the symphonic and marching bands at Wooster as well as a drummer for the pipe band and Wooster’s jazz ensembles.

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