The KSU Jazz En

Sherr Completes Piece Three Years in the Making
By Lauren Highfill

Laurence Sherr composing at an artist colony.

Kennesaw State University Composer-in-Residence Laurence Sherr is having a fruitful summer. Earning a fellowship at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences, Sherr resided in the serene North Georgia setting for several weeks. During his residency, Sherr completed a piece, recently renamed “Flame Language,” that he spent three years creating. “I was glad to have time to exclusively devote to this piece” at the Center, he says. 

“Flame Language” is a composition about the plight of victims of the Holocaust. The words to the piece are taken from a poem written by Nelly Sachs, a female survivor of the Holocaust. Sherr feels an intense connection to Sachs’ poetry because his mother also survived the Holocaust.

A few years ago, Sherr composed another piece from another Sachs poem about the Holocaust, “Fugitive Footsteps.” Although the two works address the same catastrophic event, Sherr says a main difference is that “‘Flame Language’ is about the victims rather than the tragedy of survivors.”

While the weeks Sherr spends in artist colonies allow him to devote time to composing, Sherr also brings back what he’s learned to his music composition classes at KSU. “The principles I figure out while I’m working will reflect onto the theory I teach in the classroom,” Sherr says.

Rodney Brown, a senior in music, has taken several of Sherr’s classes and says, “I really admire Dr. Sherr for taking time to work on his pieces. His continued desire to learn more about his craft is what makes him one of the more influential professors that I’ve had at KSU.”

Although Sherr completed “Flame Language” this summer, his learning process and those of his students are life-long. 




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