Crossroads of America

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January 8
2:30 pm EST


DeBartolo Performing Arts Center
100 Performing Arts Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556 United States
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(574) 631-2800
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Indiana’s emerging next generation of composers compete for the honor to write and conduct with the Symphony.

The program will be announced from the stage.

Composer and percussionist Eric Saroian composes various works that draw inspiration from numerous sources, from personal experiences to fantastical settings. As a three-time winner of the Indiana University South Bend’s Ensemble Concept/21 call for scores, he performs in South Bend, Chicago, and Lansing, Michigan. As a percussionist, Saroian is a strong advocate for the creation of new solo and chamber works. Currently, he is performing with the Michigan State University Percussion Ensemble and Michigan State University Symphony Orchestra. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. 

More about Eric and his piece, Bounce!

“Hello! My name is Eric Saroian, and I was born and raised nearby, in Granger, Indiana. I’m excited to share with you my piece, Bounce!, for chamber orchestra. 

The piece is inspired by a famous Dungeons & Dragons adventure book called Tomb of Horrors published in 1978 by Gary Gygax. It is known for being a challenging and unfair dungeon crawl that usually results in total party kills. I had the opportunity to play this adventure a few years ago, and something that struck me as I played was the player handout illustrations depicting various rooms and objects in the dungeon. The drawings brought out the ominous, yet eccentric environments. 

Among the handouts is a picture of a room with furniture and small items that appear to have been haphazardly thrown around and two untouched curtains hanging on the wall. It is stated that any characters entering the room may set off a trap in which the floor violently shakes up and down, bouncing everyone and everything around. The curtains, if ripped, turn into green slime, further adding to the chaos. I wanted to mimic the imagery of things bouncing around the room – sparsely at first, but gradually growing out of control, with the ratchet and brass representing the ripping of the curtains.” 

Nathan Froebe’s work has earned recognition from the North American Saxophone Alliance, the International Tuba-Euphonium Association, the National Flute Association, the International Trombone Festival, and the Society of Composers, Inc. He writes music for chorus, orchestra, wind band, chamber, and electronic mediums. Eclectic in style, Froebe writes with creative orchestration and programmatic narrative in many of his works. He received his doctorate of musical arts in composition from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Mead Witter School of Music. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Indiana University East, where he teaches theory, composition, aural skills, piano, band, and more. He holds memberships in CMS, ASCAP, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and Kappa Kappa Psi (honorary), and he is a proud member and advocate of the LGBTQ+ community. 

More about Nathan and his piece, Renascent

Nathan Froebe resides in Richmond, IN, where he has been a Visiting Professor of Music at Indiana University East since August 2019.  

“My orchestral work Renascent grew from self-examination of my progress as a composer. The term “renascent” means to rise again into being or vigor, and I feel like I had been undergoing that process as a composer over the past two years with the elements I was focusing on cultivating as an artist. Given the stresses of the world during the past few years, I wanted to celebrate and recognize the personal victories and growth I had achieved, but that felt limited and overly self-indulgent. Instead, I wanted to shift that celebratory attitude outwards and create a work that everyone can revel in to celebrate and reflect their own personal victories, especially ones they may have struggled to achieve. We don’t often give credence to our own accomplishments, especially the smaller ones. This fanfare works as a space and an opportunity for both the listener and performer to embrace that joy. 

From a technical side, all of the material came from an improvisation session at the piano where I discovered a circular progression that I enjoyed and could use as both the harmonic and melodic basis for the work. I crafted the work into sections based off each chord, repeatedly extrapolating material from the same source from a myriad of viewpoints. The result of this is a piece that is a flowing mix of motivic figures and melodic lines, with gestural flourishes naturally growing from every corner of the music. This all ties back into the work I had done over the previous two years, and serves artistically as a culmination of working on the techniques I had challenged myself to master.” 

Timothy Reinholz composes music that builds upon the classical tradition, incorporating philosophical and production techniques of electronic music. Milwaukee’s Tontine Ensemble regularly performs his compositions around the Midwest. He earned his master of music in Composition from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a bachelor of music in composition from the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2018. In addition, he studied jazz with Russ Johnson and viola with Mark Jackobs. 

More about Timothy and his piece, Aspects of the Thaw

Originally from Milwaukee, Timothy Reinholz came to Indiana to attend the Jacobs School of Music for his Master’s of Music in Composition. He subsequently spent the pandemic here, performed with a local orchestra, and continues to live and work in Bloomington following the completion of his degree. 

“Climate Change can be an incredibly difficult idea to conceptualize, especially in the Midwest as the early and dramatic effects have mostly spared our environment and communities. I am passionate about finding new and unique ways to present, highlight, and engage with the science, researching the scope of the problem and possible solutions. 

Aspects of the Thaw is a presentation of a small portion of this data through an artistic lens. Throughout this composition, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4) parts per million data can be found as the primary musical building blocks of sound and structure. Informing sequences of notes, interval vectors, and rhythmic structures, the data creates light and dense clouds of sound or sharp melodic contours. 

This piece also includes Ice Core CO2 samples from a data set ranging back 800,000 years in juxtaposition with the modern atmospheric data. By isolating around 10,000 years scaled in time and register, this historical data is presented as low range sounds marking the average CO2 below 300 ppm. 

The final section of the piece isolates 8 years of modern CO2 data demonstrating the drastic rise of atmospheric concentration of this greenhouse gas in one of the most remote places on earth. The range of this data is just 388 ppm to 411 pm. 

This piece is composed using climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Carbon Cycle Cooperative Global Air Sampling Network. All samples are taken from the South Pole Observatory, Palmer Station, and Ice Core samples from Antarctica.”

Michael Schelle’s work is heard across the United States and internationally by over 350 orchestras and professional chamber ensembles. In addition, he has been a guest composer in residencies in the United States, Poland, China, and Japan.  

Today he is the Artist-in-Residence at Butler University in Indianapolis. Schelle earned degrees from Villanova University, the Hartt School (CT), Trinity College of Music (London), and the University of Minnesota and has studied with Arnold Franchetti, Dominick Argento, and Aaron Copland.   

More about Michael and his piece, Summit at San Quentin 

San Quentin State Prison, located north of San Francisco, opened in 1852. The oldest prison in California, it is also the state’s only death row. It has a gas chamber, gallows, and an electric chair, but since 1996 most executions at the prison have been carried out by lethal injection. Throughout its long history San Quentin has been “home” to dozens of high-profile bad guys—murderers, politicians, drug peddlers—and musicians. Among the many infamous inmates: Eldridge Cleaver (author and early leader of the Black Panthers), Merle Haggard (country music legend), Charles Manson (cult leader and mastermind of the “Helter Skelter” murders), and Sirhan Sirhan (assassin of Robert F. Kennedy).  

If one looks for an upside to San Quentin’s rouges gallery it would have to be the infamous San Quentin Jazz Band, a group of talented inmates (most of them in for robbery and/or drug-related charges) made up of both professional and amateur musicians. Its members included saxophonist Art Pepper, pianist Jimmy Bunn (who recorded with Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus), trumpeter Dupree Bolton (who played with Bobby Hutcherson and Dexter Gordon), saxophonist Frank Morgan (who worked with Lionel Hampton and Leroy Vinnegar), and Henry Cowell (famous experimental composer who did time as the prison’s band leader),  

Locked up in the overcrowded San Quentin—a few yards from the gas chamber, and amid dire prison violence—the San Quentin Jazz Band played strikingly original, vibrant, life-affirming music every weekend in the “Big House.”  

Summit at San Quentin is a fictional gathering of various inmates (including many of those noted above) under the watchful eyes of the prison guards. The cinematic “form” of the piece is freely episodic—as various participants interact, interject, interfere, intervene and improvise. An oft-recurring repetitive rhythmic pulse—a musical reference to the inescapable confines of prison life—surrounds the entire piece.” 

About Camilla Tassi

Born in Florence, Italy, and described by Third Coast Percussion as “sharing passion for meaningful cross-disciplinary collaboration”, Camilla Tassi is a designer and musician interested in the production of music and theatrical performances.

Her work as a projection designer includes Golijov’s Falling Out of Time (Carnegie Hall), Apollo’s Fire’s tour of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (Cal Performances & UMS Michigan), Deavere Smith’s Fires in the Mirror (Baltimore Center Stage & Long Wharf Theater) Pollock’s Stinney: An American Execution (PROTOTYPE Festival, NYC), Talbot’s Path of Miracles (Conspirare), Mozart’s Magic Flute (Berlin Opera Academy), Scarlatti’s Il Primo Omicidio (Yale Voxtet), Glass’ The Fall of the House Usher for Arthur Yorinks (MASS MoCA), Handel’s Alcina (Yale Opera), Carissimi’s Jepthe (Hopkins Center for the Arts), Tesori’s Fun Home (David Geffen School of Drama),  as well as for recitals, chamber music, and theater. 

As a video designer, she has led design and film work for groups such as The Washington Chorus (DC), Les Délices (OH), The Princeton Festival (NJ), and Chicago Ear Taxi Festival (IL).

Passionate about the production process, she has produced and directed musical works, including Song from the Uproar by Missy Mazzoli and Talk to Me Like the Rain by Larry Delinger. She’s also produced G.F. Handel’s La Resurrezione HWV 47 and If This is a Man: music, science, and humanity, an interdisciplinary project and tribute to Italian chemist and author Primo Levi – which included the US Premiere of Ennio Morricone’s Se questo e` un uomo for chamber orchestra, soprano, and reciting voice. Other productions include an original multimedia presentation on Giacomo Carissimi’s music, Pen e tormenti, and she has assistant directed at the Berlin Opera Academy and Oberlin in Italy Arezzo Opera Festival.

As an Italian coach & translator, she has created program translations for Carnegie Hall (L’Arpeggiata), worked for Apollo’s Fire, and coached diction for recitals and performances.

As a coloratura soprano, Camilla has had the chance to perform operatic roles such as “Cunegonde” in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, “Celia” in Roger Steptoe’s opera premiere As You Like It, and “Drusilla” in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea. Chorally, she sings with the Yale Schola Cantorum. She’s also taken lessons in piano, organ, and harpsichord.

Camilla holds a BS in Computer Science and a BA in Music (with a Minor in Italian Studies) from the University of Notre Dame and a MA in Digital Musics at Dartmouth College. She was a Research Fellow in Projection Design at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale, where she completed an MFA under Wendall Harrington.

Meet the musicians here!

Thank you to our generous series sponsor; June H. Edwards Mosaic Series and to Carol and Craig Kapson.

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