Matthew McCabe, the visiting assistant professor of audio technology in the Columbus State University's Schwob School of Music, found out pretty quickly that even the most seasoned musicians were afraid of electroacoustic music. But once they try, it comes a little easier, he said.
Getting audiences in to listen is also tough. So this year, he's planned a weekend of electroacoustic music. If it goes well, maybe next year, he can do a weeklong festival.
It all starts today with a concert by Keith Kirchoff at 7:30 p.m. Kirchoff, an electroacoustic pianist, will be playing pieces that were commissioned for him.
Saturday morning at 11 a.m. he will conduct a seminar.
Then at 3 p.m. there's a student concert. That evening, McCabe will present a concert at 7:30.
All concerts and the seminar will be in Studio Theatre, RiverCenter for the Performing Arts.
In a lot of electroacoustic compositions, sounds are recorded, then put together in a studio. Often, it is accompanied by an instrumentalist.
Junior Liliya Ugay, a pianist and composer, is trying electroacoustic music for the first time. For her piece, "Organ Toccata," she recorded sounds made by the organ and then pieced them together.
"I collected sounds made by the organ and then combined them into something new," she said.
Her piece, along with two by David Malkiel and Kelly Fister, are all world premieres.
All of McCabe's students are happy for his guidance, Ugay said.
But McCabe insists that despite the medium, the classes are just like any other composition class.
It took Ugay a little more than a se
mester to put her piece together.
The other student composers took a little longer, he said.
Senior Clara Vargas will perform a piece called "Brief Concerto for Normal Oboe and Tiny Orchestra." The tiny orchestra, she explained, is just a small ensemble of her friends.
She called it a blend of composition and performance art.
"It's exciting as a student" to be able to participate in such a contemporary program, Vargas said.
When Ugay said it is difficult for her imagine what it was like for composers 100 years ago, McCabe agreed.
But to be able to appreciate electroacoustic music, "you have to be not stuffy, and be welcoming of new ideas."
Malkiel, a senior, said the toughest part of composing work for the concert was probably naming the pieces.
For instance, his second piece is "You've Piqued My Sax," which features Antonio Allen, a saxophonist.
He gets so immersed in the composing part of it that he often has to step back to look at the whole piece.
"I have to say, 'What is my piece saying?' And then go from there."
This year, there will be three concerts. McCabe hopes to do 9/11 concerts next year.
"We'll see how it goes," he said.