New minor produces new music

By , Reporter  |  Tuesday, May 21, 2013 9:21 AM

What started out as composition lessons lead to the music department offering students a composition minor for the first time.

Composition professor Shersten Johnson said popular demand encouraged the decision.

“There’s been a growing desire for that, and we’ve had a few students come through who said ‘I would like to have something on my degree that says I’ve composed’ so we decided to go with it,” Johnson said.

Composition minors are required to showcase a number of their pieces to complete the program.

“They were not restricted to any kind of style of procedure for composition,” Johnson said.

For senior Richard Shallbetter, who had his recital Saturday, months of composing, rehearsing, and singing, are collaborated efforts needed to prepare for the showcase.

“Getting other students to prepare for a showcase while they are busy with school is a challenge and can be frustrating, but I’ve had people who are really dedicated,” Shallbetter said.

Shallbetter said his composition’s purpose is to convey emotion to the audience through his music.

“I hope that my work is obviously received well by the audience, but also to a point where they have sort of a personal and profound experience,” Shallbetter said.

The process of composing musical pieces is what especially sparked Shallbetter’s passion.

“The thing about writing music is that when it’s on paper, playing through speakers, its still just an idea, a blueprint essentially,” Shallbetter said. “But when you have singers coming together, instrumentalists coming together … that’s when you really get to see your craft take shape.”

While this recital marks a completed chapter for Shallbetter, it notes a new beginning of a composition career.

“To me, it marks that point where I can safely say to myself that I can go out to the world and do this,” Shallbetter said.

Eden Checkol can be reached at

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