While COVID-19 cases continued to skyrocket this past weekend and many on campus were receiving phone calls about potential exposure to the virus, Keiran Lorentzen ’22 had another stressor on his mind: how he would manage to put on his senior capstone project in music during a period of such uncertainty.
Somehow, though, he prevailed. Despite his worries that some of his performers might not be able to participate due to COVID-19, Lorentzen presented his composition recital on Saturday, Feb. 19 to a hybrid audience of eager attendees, with all of his quartet members present: Skyler Lesser-Roy ’22 was the violinist, Piper Diers ’22 was on piano, Becca Elbert ’22 was on flute and Ethan Parks ’24 was the percussionist.
“I know that this recent outbreak of COVID has been tiresome and stressful, which is why I wanted to thank everybody who made it out here today,” Lorentzen said before the recital began.
Because the senior capstone project in music demands a performance component, possible COVID-19 exposure becomes all the more challenging to navigate for these musicians. Katie Kress ’22, another music major, was also supposed to have her recital this past weekend, but had to reschedule to this Saturday, Feb. 26 because of the recent outbreak.
Lorentzen’s recital consisted of two original minimalist compositions — titled “Albatross” and “The Doldrums” — that featured a violin, piano, flute and percussion. Lorentzen had been working on these compositions over the course of the academic year, meeting with music faculty throughout the process.
After thanking both the in-person and virtual attendees, Lorentzen gave an address that provided context about his recital pieces. In his introductory comments, he explained why he settled on minimalism as a genre.
“The extended use of minimal harmonic and melodic materials is intriguing as it allows for an in-depth study of certain facets of music which can otherwise be overlooked in different styles, such as dynamics, articulation, timbre and intonation,” he said. “My intention in using minimalism was to highlight these aspects and bring them to the forefront.”
Much of Lorentzen’s compositional choices were clear in his two pieces. “Albatross” utilizes different motifs for each instrument, with the pulsing beat of the drum consistent throughout. The piece begins with several sporadic moments from these instruments, as they enter at different times.
Slowly, though, the composition begins to unravel into something bigger. Each instrument takes on a repetitive motif through different variations: The piano alternates between three notes, two of which the violin borrows in its own motif, while the flute oscillates between sixteenth notes and longer phrases. As the piece progresses, Lorentzen includes a basso ostinato in the piano, which contributes to its ominous feeling.
“The Doldrums,” by comparison, provided a much more calming atmosphere. Lesser-Roy and Elbert worked in tandem, often building the dynamics of the piece, and backing away from the forte simultaneously. The duo shared notes and rhythmic structures, offering a duet-like feel against the piano’s consistent chordal structure and the repetition of the percussion.
All in all, Lorentzen was happy with the way the recital worked out, and is glad that it all was able to come together despite the circumstances. “The process of turning some ideas into notes, and then some notes on a piece of paper into audible music was really cool to experience, especially with such a great group of musicians to help me out,” he said.