Symposium strings composers together

When people think of classical music, dead people are all that come to mind. This weekend, though, people will get a taste of classical from the 21st century.

The Alfred Loeffler New Music Symposium will give audiences a chance to not only hear some music written within the walls of Chico State, but an affordable listen to some world-renowned musical groups.

This is the first year for the symposium, which is named for the former chair of the music department. Loeffler held three degrees in music from Yale and a doctorate from Minnesota. During his 21-year-tenure at Chico State he was the conductor of the Chico Symphony Orchestra — now the North State Symphony Orchestra. Loeffler died in October 2003.

While Loeffler’s name is attached to the event, his work isn’t the primary focus.

“We will play a couple of his pieces in the first concert,” professor David Colson said. “It’s a big amalgam — a very rich mixture of the creative side and the recreative side.”

The Da Vinci Quartet will play both Friday and Saturday night. They will be joined by the Liberace Wind Quintet Friday.

The Liberace Quintet is a student group sponsored by the George Liberace Foundation. They are not required to wear the sequined splendor of their namesake. Colson said the relationship the quintet’s coach Pete Nowlen has with Chico State’s music department has helped to put this event together.

Sunday will feature a free concert consisting of Chico State student composers. Colson said the students’ talent can be appreciated without knowing composition.

“If it is something that you find you’re emotionally moved by or something that you hear that you find inspiring, it doesn’t matter if you understand how the music is put together,” Colson said. “What’s important is that you come and listen and understand that there are actual living creative people that are producing this music.”

Three alumni composers have been called in to take part in the symposium. They carry doctorates or master’s in music from Florida, Oregon and even Israel.

“We don’t have lots of opportunities to hear or play or have music by student or faculty composers on a regular basis,” Colson said.

The symposium’s main goal is to expose people to modern classical music and bring in living composers to show classical music isn’t just written by a bunch of dead people.

To help prove this point, there will be four special discussion and demonstration sessions that are free and open to the public. Thursday will feature the Da Vinci Quartet; Friday, composer Andrew List; and Saturday composers Pierre Jalbert and Robert Patterson in two separate events.

To help fund the event, individual donors from outside the music department have contributed, since ticket sales are expected to only put a small dent in the expenses.

“We will be lucky to break even,” Colson said.

Colson credits a “very generous” grant from Associated Students as another major contribution to fund the symposium. As a result of the budget crisis, he realizes this money may not be available next semester. He does hold out hope that the symposium will become an annual event.

“You hope that when you do it the first time you can do it a second and third time,” Colson said. “Hopefully by the fourth of fifth time you get it established.”

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