Mozart isn’t around to explain the meaning behind his musical passages. Neither is Beethoven.
But composer Joseph Schwantner is, and he’ll be talking to the LSU Wind Ensemble about all of this works on Feb. 22-23. Add the fact that Schwantner has won a Pulitzer Prize for his work, and the experience becomes even more special.
“He’s a musician I’ve loved for a long time,” says Damon Talley, director of bands and wind ensemble conductor. “He used to teach at the Eastman School of Music, and I wanted to try to bring him to our campus. I just called him, and I was surprised when he said yes. We had to work around his schedule, but our students are thrilled.”
Schwantner will be visiting LSU in a two-day residency that will have him working with graduate composition students and with the wind ensemble, as well as attending the ensemble’s concert on Tuesday, where he will speak to the audience in the LSU Union Theater.
“We’ve dedicated the entire program to his music,” Talley says. “We’ll be playing three of his compositions. One is a groundbreaking work that will feature Sandra Moon, who is on our music faculty.”
Moon is an assistant professor of voice in the LSU School of Music.
She’ll be featured in the first half of the concert with Associate Professor of Percussion Brett Dietz and the LSU Percussion Ensemble as featured guests in the second.
Schwantner, known for his dramatic style, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for his orchestral composition “Aftertones of Infinity” and has received several Grammy Award nominations.
His works have been commissioned by orchestras throughout the world, and his list of artist collaborations includes Emanuel Ax, Coretta Scott King, James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Robert Guillaume, Maya Angelou, Yolanda King, Alfre Woodard and Ed Bradley.
“This is a unique opportunity for our students,” Talley says. “It’s not every day that they get to talk to a composer about how and why he wrote a piece. And it’s not every day that they get to work with a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer. This is their chance.”