Student composers share original work on virtual symposium


Graphic by Sophia Pearson

Students and alumni of the Department of Music and Theater gathered March 11 on a virtual platform to talk about and share original pieces of music.

CSU Chico’s very own musicians and composition students shared insight about their music-making process and the music itself. This year’s music symposium, which is normally an in-person event, made the shift to a virtual presentation amid pandemic restrictions. 

The event took place March 11 and was led by David Dvorin, department of music and theater faculty member. Students joined department alumni to showcase a variation of music ranging from classical to electronic. 

Given that this was the first time this event was held virtually, there were doubts about whether this year’s symposium would have the same impact as years before. While the past year has presented its challenges to the department, Dvorin said, “By doing the event online via a Zoom webinar, we were able to format it more like a true symposium: a sharing of ideas centered on the art of music composition.”

The first musician to share was student Daniel Rosales. Rosales is the president of the student composers forum on campus. The club meets weekly to share creative ideas and techniques. 

Rosales shared three original piano pieces, the first was titled “The Profound Undivulged.” Before presenting his piece, Rosales took a moment to talk a little bit about his creative inspiration. For this piece specifically, Rosales was inspired by the book “Theory of Harmony” by Ernst Levy. The book deals with ideas of polarity within music, which is what inspired Rosales to create sections within his own work. 

A common theme communicated from several of the artists was the idea of creating music during the pandemic. Some expressed how difficult it was, while others found that they had more time to explore new methods and styles.

One of the other presenters, Ryan Martinez, mentioned how the boredom of this pandemic allowed him to lean into his interest in PC generated music. 

“I found it was the best place for me to express myself visually,” said Martinez. “So I’ve really put in a lot of time to learn it.”

Like Martinez, several of the musicians included visual elements to be paired with their music. Some created animated visual effects and others took less traditional approaches in their delivery.

Toward the end of the event, Dvorin gave audience members the chance to ask questions for the panelists to answer. One attendee, Dr. Crowley, asked the panel what artists influenced and inspired them. The panel responded with a wide range of artists spanning many genres. Some of the artists that were mentioned were Silvana Estrada, Lisa Bella Donna, Allan Holdsworth, Andre Gibson and Esperanza Spalding. 

For some, this year’s virtual format might have seemed like a shock, but everyone, especially the presenters, seemed to enjoy each other’s company and conversation. The symposium served as an opportunity for student composers to share the music they have been working on as well as exchange insight amongst each other. 

The department of music and theatre’s website is where you can find more information about upcoming events hosted by the department. The website also contains a recording of the symposium that is available to stream. The next scheduled event will be the world premiere of “A Whole New Story: The Music of Samsel and Anderson,” which will be available to stream from March 31 through April 4. 

Sophia Pearson can be reached at [email protected] or @sophia__pearson on Twitter.