Two composition alums commissioned for new works for N150 celebration
calendar icon23 Jan 2019 user iconBy Kathe C. Andersen
Lincoln, Neb.--Two alumni from the Glenn Korff School of Music’s composition program have been commissioned to write new works for “A Celebration of Music and Milestone, N150” on Feb. 15 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
More than 175 artists will unite for an evening of live performance and multimedia entertainment celebrating the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s 150th anniversary.
Garrett Hope (D.M.A. 2011) and David von Kampen (B.M. 2010; M.M. 2011) have each been commissioned for a new work for the event.
Von Kampen has composed “Welcome Pioneers,” which will be performed by the University Singers and University Orchestra. The piece was commissioned in celebration of the University of Nebraska’s 150th anniversary by the Lied Center for Performing Arts and the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts.
“We wanted something that was capturing the tone or the spirit of the event,” von Kampen said. “We wanted to find a text that would capture the feeling of Nebraska—what this place feels like and the people here.”
Becky Boesen, a local playwright, lyricist, director, actor and teaching artist and adjunct theatre faculty member at Doane University, wrote the poem for the piece.
“The spark for the poem, ‘Welcome Pioneers’ came when I read a quote by Chancellor Green, where he spoke about the future of the University in relation to our students, as being in ‘good hands,’” Boesen said. “I liked that. I like the idea of trusting what a resource our young people are, so that’s where it started.”
Boesen hopes it evokes for listeners a sense of appreciation for what makes the University of Nebraska special.
“We’re a big vision, roll up your sleeves, and take action kind of place,” she said. “It makes me proud to think about.”
Von Kampen is proud to be part of the celebration.
“It is a great opportunity and really exciting,” he said. “For a composer, now, to be able to write anything for an actual orchestra is getting more and more rare. So many orchestras play so much old music, which is great, but for any orchestra to do works by living composers and to want to collaborate in that way is really special. I’m really grateful for that opportunity. And I’ve written lots of pieces for Pete Eklund’s choirs before, so this will be another one in a long series of collaborations with University Singers.”
Boesen appreciates the historical significance of the event.
“Being able to contribute to this piece of University history in lasting words is one of the greatest honors I’ve experienced,” she said. “As a person who both attended the University and who started my career as an artist here at the Nebraska Repertory Theatre, as well as having plays and musicals commissioned and produced by the Lied Center for Performing Arts, this is truly the culmination of a journey and a reminder that UNL is a great place for those who create to pursue their passions.”
Hope has composed a four-minute piece titled “Redlands” to accompany a dance choreographed by Associate Professor of Dance Susan Ourada.
“Students are performing it, and it is for two cellos, two double bass, two marimbas and a vibraphone,” Hope said. “Susan and I wanted to do this post-minimalistic, looping work so it’s a piece of music that takes small ideas and repeats them with small changes during the repetitions to make it interesting and also to create something that has some natural and open kind of qualities of sound to represent the prairie landscape with a sense of emerging and then a setting, as if you’re going through a day.”
Ourada’s dance is titled “Sea of Red” and will feature performers from her professional dance company, sloDance, which includes five dance alumni (Bree Gibbs, Katie Heckman, Beth Jensen, Jordan Patt and Kathryn Hibbard Voight) and one former faculty member, Noelle Bohaty.
“I’m looking forward to seeing it on the main stage,” Ourada said.
Hope says there are many connections to the university with his involvement in this celebration.
“I am proud to be both a graduate and to be on the faculty here,” he said. “It’s an honor to be asked to be part of the celebration. For my part, involving the students gets me really excited. Some of the players are students who are in my classes right now and some are students that I’ve had in the past, so I feel like there’s many connections here.”
Von Kampen is a six-time Downbeat Award winner in graduate-level jazz writing categories, a three-time winner of the Vancouver Chamber Choir Young Composers Competition and was named the MTNA Distinguished Composer of the Year for his song cycle “Under the Silver and Home Again.” He is also the recipient of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award. “Puddin’ and the Grumble,” his original musical with Boesen, was one of seven finalists for the Richard Rodgers award.
He is currently a lecturer of music theory and literature in the Glenn Korff School of Music, where he directs the UNL Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He also teaches applied composition at Concordia University and serves as music coordinator for blended worship at Christ Lutheran Church in Lincoln. He is a member of ASCAP, the Jazz Education Network and the American Choral Directors Association.
Hope is also a lecturer of music theory and literature in the Glenn Korff School of Music. He teaches the most popular course in the Korff School with up to 900 students each semester, the History of Rock and Roll.
An award-winning composer of film and concert music, Hope also runs a popular podcast, “The Portfolio Composer,” and helps composers and creatives build their businesses as a business and success coach and public speaker.
He is also working with an organization called Chase the Music, which is based in Colorado and commissions music for children with terminal diseases. He is currently writing a piece for a young boy based in Nebraska, whose grandparents run an aviation business out of the Seward airport, that will debut and be choreographed by an aerial stunt pilot during the July 4 celebration in Seward.
The N150 Celebration on Feb. 15 promises to be a memorable evening for everyone who attends.
“There’s so much good stuff,” von Kampen said. “I think this piece will be a big success, and I know Garrett is writing something really cool, and the choir and orchestra are doing ‘Carmina Burana’ and more. And that’s just the music. It’s going to be a really great event.”
Tickets for “A Celebration of Music and Milestone, N 150” are $30 and are available at https://go.unl.edu/ha97, by phone at (402) 472-4747 or at the Lied Center box office, 301 N. 12th St. UNL students can purchase tickets at a 50 percent discount with a valid NCard. Children 18 and younger are eligible for half-price tickets. A limited number of free Arts for All tickets for students are available at https://go.unl.edu/dvtz.