Alumnus composes piece for homecoming concert

Jessica Sheldahl

What: Homecoming Concert

Where: Martha-Ellen Tye Recital Hall

When: 3 p.m., Sunday

Cost: Free

This weekend will be a true homecoming for four ISU alumni. They will be recognized with the Department of Music Outstanding Alumni Award at a special homecoming concert with the wind ensemble.

Recipients of the award include Jay Kawarsky, professor of music theory and composition and chair of the musical theatre program at Westminster Choir College of Rider University; Paul Bro, professor of music at Indiana State University; Alan Greiner, director of the Iowa State High School Music Association; and Wayne Bailey, director of the School of Music and professor of music at Arizona State University.

“These people will be receiving their awards at a special dinner on Friday evening, but this is a way to thank them publicly and at a concert and allowing them to do what’s helped get them the award,” says Michael Golemo, music department chair and conductor of the wind ensemble.

The concert will include five pieces. Bailey and Greiner are guest conductors for the concert and each of them will conduct the wind ensemble on one of the pieces.

The highlight of the concert will be the premiere of a composition by Kawarsky called “Fastidious Notes.” The fourth alumnus will also be a part of this premiere. Bro will be the soloist for this saxophone concerto.

Golemo says he agreed to play this work before it had even been written.

“I spoke with some members of the faculty who had had him as a student years ago, and they assured me he would write something wonderful,” Golemo says.

“It is a short piece, only 10 minutes long, with alto saxophone, wind instruments and a lot of percussion,” Kawarsky says. “It’s a flashy, show-off piece for Dr. Bro.”

Kawarsky isn’t the only one excited to see the piece performed. The students in the wind ensemble are excited as well.

“It is quite catchy at parts and almost a little bouncy,” says Kristina Boysen, graduate in computer science and member of the wind ensemble. “It’s a semi-modern piece. It slows down and speeds up. It’s very different like that.”

Golemo says the piece requires some nontraditional instruments for the wind ensemble including a string bass and harp and also an unusual instrumentation.

“The accompaniment is not for the traditional full symphonic band,” Golemo says. “It’s really more of a large chamber group so it’s a different size for us, and that’s one of the neat things about the wind ensemble. Fairly often we will go with a unique instrumentation to satisfy what the composer intended as opposed to having the same people play all the time.”

“I’m very excited about it,” Kawarsky says. “When you create a work and finish writing the last page, it’s like giving birth to it.”