Mercer’s Townsend School of Music presents inaugural Student Composers Recital

Kyle Wegner, freshman, will be performing in the Student Composers Recital Feb. 25.

Image: Sarah Pounds

Kyle Wegner, freshman, will be performing in the Student Composers Recital Feb. 25.

Ireal James, Contributing Writer

Mercer University will host its first Student Composers Recital in the Townsend School of Music’s Fickling Hall Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

The Student Composers Recital is a student-initiated event that will showcase the work of students who have been writing their own musical pieces throughout the year.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for student composers who are learning the craft of musical composition to demonstrate their ideas in a recital,” said composition professor Dr. Christopher Schmitz. “Now we have an opportunity to exclusively show student works that have been written.”

Schmitz will be facilitating the recital and looking over students’ pieces as they prepare for their performances.

The recital will include students from all experience levels who are willing to display their talents.

“I’ve always wanted to compose — part of being a musician is not only just playing music, but also being able to write it,” said freshman composition student Noah Samuelson. “Getting into this recital . . . was a perfect way for me to embrace that craft,” he said.

Samuelson said his method of preparation for the recital will develop slowly as he focuses on an idea, writing that idea and playing it for an audience.

“Music is an absolute part of life for me. I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else or doing anything else,” Samuelson said. “It’s amazing, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Schmitz said that although students are working independently on their compositions, there will be opportunities for them to collaborate with professors and instrumentalists.

“I have been working on a song cycle of three pieces that I will be doing,” said Beau Palmer, a graduate student who will participate in the showcase. The cycle is called “Songs for My Children.”

Palmer said the three pieces were inspired by his four children: one reflects on table manners, in another a father is being woken up by his son who wants to be fed and the other focuses on a father’s realization of what the world is like after having children.

“Dr. Schmitz’s daughter will be playing the clarinet on the song cycle,” Palmer said.

Palmer has written poetry for his pieces.

And Townsend professor Dr. Carol Goff will act as an accompanist for Palmer’s compositions.

Even as a graduate student at Mercer, Palmer said he is still learning.

“I did my bachelor’s [degree] many, many years ago, and I didn’t care much for [music] theory back then,” Palmer said. “But Dr. Schmitz is so kind and generous with his time.”

“I am exceptionally pleased with all the progress I’ve made [with Schmitz],” he said.

Schmitz said that the Student Composers Recital will not be competitive. Instead, it will focus on students’ creativity and emotion.

“This is really a neat opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t expect this many students to be taking composition this semester, so I’m really thrilled that they are. I think it’s going to be really fun.”

All are welcome to attend the Student Composers Recital, and admission is free.

“I hope [my students] will get a chance to hear their experiments . . . and get feedback in the performance that allows them to learn from their mistakes,” Schmitz said.