72 Hour Composition Project
Spotlights shone on the wooden stage of a small theatre. Stage hands expertly set up music stands for the awaited performers. A murmur passed through the crowd as a trio of violinists entered the stage.
On Friday, Sept. 9, TEMPO New Music Ensemble, a graduate student-run organization that presents concerts featuring new classical music, held “The 72 Hour Composition Challenge.” This was a concert featuring compositions created by these students in only 72 hours.
Composers were assigned at random to a group of performers, whose instrumental skills ranged from oboe to xylophone, 72 hours before the competition. The composers and performers had to work together for the next three days to produce a two-to-three minute piece worthy of a performance. This year’s guest composer featured in the finale was Dale Trumbore, who is an alumni of this university where she majored in music composition.
“I got the commission two months ago, that’s a very quick turn around,” Trumbore said.“Getting to come back to the university, it’s been great. Being in this place again and being able to work with the ensemble as well as other alumni musicians has been the best part.”
“The 72 Hour Composition Challenge is a cog in that machine, where anyone who wants to attend can hear, quite literally, the newest classical music being composed today,” said Bradley Stuart Green, a graduate assistant at the university who aided the project. “There are so few opportunities for the average person to really experience new classical music, and TEMPO has always strived to perform this music for as many audiences as possible.”
The “72 Hour Composition Challenge” has paved the road for young performers and has added an unique feature to the yearly NextNOW Fest.
TOTUS Showcase Speaks Truth
In the darkness of Kay Theater, an audience sat transfixed as they viewed a short film that captured the reality of being black in America.
Opeyemi Owoeye, or O-slice as she’s commonly known, showed her video to kick off the TOTUS Spoken Word Showcase for NextNOW Fest in The Clarice Friday night.
A recent graduate of this university and an alum of TOTUS, Owoeye used film and poetry to powerfully convey racism, and more specifically, police brutality.
“In life, you’re not allowed to say certain things, or at least it makes people uncomfortable when you say certain things, but all of a sudden if you make them rhyme or you say it in a clever way, people are more inclined to listen,” Owoeye said.
Zack Mindheim, 21, from SiIver Spring, said that spoken word is one of the most powerful ways to get a message across.
“I know I don’t experience police brutality in the same way, so it’s refreshing, it’s new,” Mindheim said. “It’s a new experience and it’s always something I pride myself on to learn more, to understand where [people of color] are coming from.”
Another performer Breonna Massey, a junior government and politics major, read her piece “Black Girl Magic,” an empowering poem about black women’s strength.
Other performances were about the loss of a loved one and feminism.
As the sun descended behind The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center Sept. 9, NextNOW Fest was just kicking off for the weekend.
The outdoor stage on the Front Plaza anxiously awaited talented performers.. The first would be University of Maryland graduate Joshua Leviton, otherwise known as “The Orthobox.”
Fresh off of America’s Got Talent, Leviton combines Eastern culture—rooted in Orthodox Judaism with Western Culture,often associated with hip-hop,—with his beatboxing and a cappella vocal technique.
“I try to be the fusion of East and West,” Leviton said. “Beatboxing represents that fusion.”
Dressed in a white button down and black pants with tzitzit strings hanging from his shirt tail and a kippah on his head, Leviton humbly impressed his audience with renditions of Meghan Trainor’s, “All About That Bass,” Lorde’s, “Royals,” Bastille’s “Pompeii” and Ed Sheeran’s “Wayfaring Stranger” amongst other pop hits, while only using his voice.
Leviton demonstrated his loop pedal—a device that continuously repeats a recorded sound—during his set, allowing him to layer his vocals and create melodies, harmonies and percussion. This kind of stage presence was well accepted by the crowd of onlookers seated before him.
“I enjoy listening to different types of music, and I’ve heard of him before and seen a few of his videos,” sophomore studio art and theater major Rina Goldman said. “I thought it was a lot of fun. I love how he mixes it on stage for you and that he records it as he goes along with the show.”
Leviton, whose interest in beatboxing began when he first saw it in a Youtube video in 2005, has since created his own YouTube channel with beatboxing tutorials, believing the talent is not innate but learnable to anyone when given the proper resources.
“People assume it’s like singing: you either have it or you don’t,” he said. “It’s all hard work and perseverance.”
When I think of an orchestra or violinists, I tend to think of white middle-aged men in tuxes. On Friday night at the Kay Theatre during NextNOW Fest, Chargaux defied all those stereotypes.
The black-girl duo, made up of Jasmin “Charly” Charles and Margaux Whitney, is based out of Brooklyn and brings both hip-hop and contemporary music, as well as lyrics about love, self-identity and struggle. What makes Chargaux so eccentric and captivating is their ability to bring lyrics and different beats to an orchestra.
Before the concert, though I hadn’t listened to them extensively, I knew about Chargaux through a video I saw on Facebook. The two, not widely recognized in the public eye, have most notably worked with Kendrick Lamar on “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and with J. Cole.
The two girls talked to the audience as if we were not just there to listen, but to be apart of the show.. The hundred some people in the seats were captivated by each piece. I wouldn’t say the duo sang or played, rather continuously created an atmosphere of music and passion.
The music was heard: the strings of the violins working together in harmony, or when Margaux hovered over the laptop to create the beats and melodies of a piece.
The music was seen: the duo working their arms up the violin or playing the instrument as a guitar.
The music was felt: the shivers sent up your spine as they hit a high note or the vibrations of the song coming out of the speakers.
The composition and vibe of each song varied. The two played violin the entire piece while one was all vocals. Margaux used the keyboard while Charly fiddled the violin. They previewed their upcoming project, “Meditations of a G,” a melody mixing hip-hop, bass drops and symphony. My personal favorite piece was their cover of Kanye West’s “Wolves,” bringing their female vocals and unique harmonies to a popular song. They ended with their most popular song on Spotify and Soundcloud, “Lullaby,” followed by several rounds of applause.
What intrigued me most about some of the anthems was how they used their violins as guitars — something I had never seen before. The connection between the two musicians―how they looked at each other for inspiration and guidance―was something unfamiliar to me in a concert setting. The duo isn’t only a band, but a bond of two souls who want to share that love and kindness with an audience.
Margaux spoke to the audience in the most honest tone. What she said stuck with me because it is something simple but often forgotten. She said, “Pay your rent, take care of your college loans, eat three times a day, eat some fruit, say hi to people on the street.” They were real, transparent and filled with soul―just like their music.
Ethereal cello music echoed throughout the grand pavilion of The Clarice as the aerial dance group Bandaloop suspended both their bodies and the audience’s disbelief.
More than 50 people gathered Sept. 9 in the grand-pavilion-turned-concert-space for NextNOW Fest.
Two dancers dressed in black and seafoam blue- climbed into the air on a single cord. Each dancer was attached to one end of it, and it acted as a scale balancing one against the other.
They climbed up and down, mirroring one another’s bodies and twisting around each other, each movement accentuated by sharp shadows imitating them on each wall.
Finally, descending from the sea of blue lights on the ceiling, the performers bowed to ecstatic cheers.
Featured Photo Credit: Orthobox performs his set at NextNOW Festival. (Gabe Fernandez/Bloc Photographer)