Posting Date: May 5, 2010
Composer and conductor Steven Bryant visits Kennesaw State
Artist residency presents unique musical style to School of Music students
By Tabatha Wahlquist
Photo from http://www.stevenbryant.com
KSU Wind Ensemble in performance
Photo by Anne Almasy
Highly acclaimed composer and conductor Steven Bryant recently served as an artist-in-residence at the at the Kennesaw State University School of Music. While visiting KSU, Bryant worked directly with KSU music composition students. The KSU Wind Ensemble and Concert Band, under the direction of Director of Instrumental Music Education John Culvahouse and Director of Bands David Kehler, performed three of Bryant’s original compositions in their spring concert on April 27 in the Performance Hall of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center.
Bryant, an Arkansas native, has composed works for wind ensemble and orchestra as well as electronic and electro-acoustic creations and chamber music. Bryant's music has been performed by numerous ensembles across North America, Europe and East Asia. He is a two-time winner of the National Band Association's William D. Revelli Composition Award. He won in 2007 for his work “Radiant Joy” and in 2008 for “Suite Dreams."
On April 27, the KSU Concert Band performed Bryant’s “Bloom,” and the KSU Wind Ensemble performed his “Radiant Joy.” The highlight of the concert was Bryant’s “Ecstatic Waters.” As Kehler describes, “The piece utilizes various electronica. It premiered last spring at the National College Band Directors Convention in Austin, Tex. and has since become the new, important band work that is being performed all over the country this year.”
Bryant rehearsed his pieces with students prior to the live performance. “The music was quite challenging, but I was very happy afterward,” says Levi Cull, a KSU freshman music education major and percussionist. “It was rewarding to work with Bryant and see how a composer tries to come across to audiences. I’m glad KSU could bring him in, and I hope he comes back,” Cull explains.
Bora Moon, a recent KSU graduate in music performance, was the featured clarinet soloist for “Ecstatic Waters.” Bora describes Bryant as “excited about working with us. He was very nice and supportive, and it was an awesome experience.”
The concert featured a blend of acoustic and wind sounds. Bryant characterizes the performances as a collaboration of “human and machine.” In “Ecstatic Waters,” for example, “the solo clarinet plays these bubbling trails of sound” through a microphone while those sounds are being manipulated electronically. Moon explains, “I had to wear an earpiece and follow along with the conductor very carefully.”
The KSU performance was an opportunity for musicians and audience members to see and hear Bryant’s vision first hand. Bryant says, “I strive to write music that leaps off the stage to grab you by the collar and pull you in. Whether through a relentless eruption of energy or the intensity of quiet contemplation, I want my music to give you no choice and no other desire but to listen.”