James Downs, associate professor of history and American studies, will spend the 2015-16 academic year studying medical anthropology at Harvard University.
In a unique spring concert, two music students will have the opportunity to present the culmination of four years of study as their senior composition theses are performed in front of a live audience.
The performance, on Thursday, April 18, at 8 p.m. in Evans Hall of Cummings Arts Center, will feature a choral piece by Ben Zacharia ’13 titled “Light the Shadows/Spurn the Dark” and an orchestral piece by Jordan Hillman ’13 titled “A Journey Over Land and Sea.” Zacharia’s piece will be performed by the Connecticut College Chamber Choir, conducted by Simon Holt, and Hillman’s piece by the Connecticut College Orchestra, conducted by Assistant Professor of Music Mark Seto.
“This sort of concert is very rare,” Zacharia said. “It is, I believe, unprecedented to have multiple student composition honors theses and on top of that to have them performed in one concert.”
Hillman added, “These pieces are special because Ben and I both wrote them with these particular ensembles in mind. It’s been an incredible experience watching so many student musicians come together to make this all happen.”
After consulting with Art Kreiger, the Sylvia Pasternack Marx Professor of Music, Zacharia and Hillman spent large portions of their senior year devoting themselves to the creative process of writing a song. Although both students are very proud of the work they have accomplished with each piece, they stress that the composition process was far from easy. Hillman described the difficulty of writing the piece without an orchestra on-hand, explaining that his music notation software “doesn’t quite sound like a real orchestra. I relied on my imagination as much as possible and on a few occasions met with individual players to see how certain parts would sound,” he said.
Zacharia added, “This is easily the largest piece of music I have written and it was a daunting undertaking.”
In the end, both students are eager to present their work and hope that audience members will come to experience the music.
“We both put a lot of hard work, patience and love into these pieces, and above all, we tried to make music that would be enjoyable to listen to,” Hillman said.
The performance is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception. For more information, call 860-439-2728.