Torch

March 2012

The magazine of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas.

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TLU TODAY Composer Premieres New Works with TLU ensemble's custom score. The soſt clicking of temple blocks keeps the beat for a curious South American dance, providing a vehicle for the energetic third movement—fast, rambunctious, driven with a sprinkling of funny interludes. A somber lament layered atop a cluster of flutes and clarinets playing an indeterminate quiet backdrop underline a dialogue between an English horn and bassoon duet, solo trumpet, and baritone horn. Brass coloring in mellow chorales give a memorial sense before increasing the tempo once again. A more classic dance embodies the intensity of jazz to complete the final movement. Commissioned to write three different pieces for three different ensembles A for TLU, composer William Averitt gladly took on the challenge. His usual approach is to start at the beginning and work his way to the end, but TLU's pieces were different. "William Averitt has one of the most unique and engaging compositional voices in America today." "What started out, at least in my imagination, as a grouping of very short miniatures, in fact turned out to be these five movements," explains Averitt. "It's interesting how pieces seem to assume a character as you work through them." Averitt's wind ensemble piece is a rarity among his diverse portfolio. While instrumental, chamber and orchestral compositions are more common, his last commissioned wind ensemble piece was a Verdehr trio concerto 20 years ago. 4 TEXAS LUTHERAN UNIVERSITY pulsing movement, meditative and quiet introduces the wind "It's quite a different experience to try to figure out how to use most, if not all, of the players in a large group effectively," says Averitt. There's also the uncertain nature of college ensembles at the mercy of who enrolls. "I used to be the orchestra conductor at Shenandoah University and I always used to live in fear that the principle oboe would be a senior and graduate." Choral pieces pose a different challenge as Averitt wades through poetry to find the text that grounds the composition. "For me, it was a major struggle, as it always is, to not only find a poem I like, but in the case of these pieces, collections of poems that work together that I felt comfortable fitting." Last year during spring tour, the Composer William Averitt with his wife, flutist Fances Lapp Averitt.. contrasting mood, spirit and song. TLU Choir performed portions of Averitt's "Afro-American Fragments," featuring the poetry of Langston Hughes. A misprint in the published score prompted Dr. Douglas Boyer, TLU School of Music Director, to contact Averitt, beginning an ongoing correspondence that would result in the commissioned works. "William Averitt has one of the most unique and engaging compositional voices in America today," says Boyer. "His harmonic pallet is rich, colorful and engaging. He has this way of taking, what might be considered by some, to be somewhat harsh dissonance and creating the most beautiful colors. His vocal lines are expansive and yet filled with an internal, rhythmic energy and excitement." As a sort of encore to Averitt's "Afro- American Fragments," Boyer suggested another Langston Hughes inspired piece for the TLU Choir. Centered around a tiny six-line poem, Averitt set "The Deepness of the Blue" using five poems of I loved my friend He went away from me There's nothing more to say The poem ends soſt as it began I loved my friend –"Poem" by Langston Hughes "It's kind of a strange challenge to do the same poet over and over again," Averitt admits. "Although, I think a lot of composers find they're attracted to particular poets." In addition to composing the three commissioned works, Averitt will be on campus as Artist in Residence April 9-11, with a concert of his works to be performed Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Jackson Auditorium. Averitt's works will premiere during the 2012 Spring Choir Tour. The Provost Grant has provided the funding for the School of Music to bring guests like William Averitt to campus, including Jake Heggie, Ricky Ian Gordon and Anthony Rapp. Frances Lapp Averitt, his wife, is a recognized flutist who will also be on

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