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The Scarlet & Black

Composing on the clock

For the past several years, Grinnell’s Music Student Educational Policy Committee (SEPC) has organized a 24-hour composition concert, during which all of the material and preparation for the event is done within a 24-hour time period. Composers and performers of any experience level are welcome to participate.

The 24-hour time frame may appear intimidating at first, but the event usually does not require its participants to stay up the entire night and hold a concert on no sleep and many cups of coffee. Since individuals are typically not both performers and composers, the time commitment is usually just 12 hours. At 7:30 p.m. tonight, composers will draw names of performers and their instrument from a hat, typically two to three depending on the number of performers who sign up. The composers then have 12 hours to compose a piece for their specific instruments. However, because the group encourages all types of instruments, including voice, the pieces can be quite untraditional.

“Last year, we had someone playing the hurdy-gurdy, which is an early European instrument—medieval-ish,” said Ana Ovtcharova ’15, one of the composers this semester. “So, it’s kind of a challenge for both because the composer has to figure out what the range and possibilities are and then the performer has to play modern music.”

Once the pieces are given to the performers by 7:30 a.m., the composers are allowed to do what they’d like with their remaining 12 hours. Most use this time to get some well-deserved sleep. The performers can then spend time preparing their piece until the concert takes place.

One of the goals of the event is to allow new composers to write music under less formal and strenuous guidelines.

“We encourage the composers to do whatever they want, to not necessarily stick to conventional methods so some of them can get a little avant-garde,” Ovtcharova said.

The short time frame is also meant to encourage musicians who do not have the time to prepare for performances over several weeks or who are hoping to become more comfortable with their instrument.

“It’s really fun for everyone involved. It can get a little stressful, but everyone realizes that you only had 12 hours to write the piece—its not going to be perfect,” Ovtcharova said. “It’s also an opportunity for both composers and performers to do their thing without too much of a time commitment ,since it’s just one day.”

Anyone who wishes to participate in the 24-hour composition should email [musicsepc] or attend the meeting at 7:30 p.m. this Friday in Bucksbaum 263. Participants are simply required to be able to read music and play an instrument.

The concert will be held on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Sebring-Lewis Hall, and all are invited to attend.

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