Music & Art Department: Saying ‘good-bye’ to the school year

Graphic by Emily Hsu

Classes can be overwhelming and sometimes the best way to blow off steam is to immerse yourself in the arts. Perhaps you played piano when you were eight years old but decided to quit when it got too difficult.

Learning an instrument (including your own voice) is a challenging process that requires dedication and constant rehearsal. Those who haven’t been involved in music programs have many opportunities on campus. Students can benefit greatly from learning the technicalities of music.

2011-2012 has been an academic year entailing hard work from students in the music and art programs.

This includes those who participate in the musical theatre department, led by director Tammis Doyle. She encourages an all-encompassing route to theatre education.

Students will learn significantly more about the profession by both taking courses and being part of productions. Although the cast is often composed of students from theatre classes, auditions are open to anyone.

“When you are acting, you are putting yourself aside to become this person. That means they might have different vocal placement and physical gestures and postures than you do. It’s a really fun, yet [a] time-consuming process,” said Maddie Dugan, a drama student at BC.

Summer quarter will be coming to a close with the performance of “A…My Name will Always be Alice,” a musical revue that focuses on the lives of women from different social backgrounds and the way they interact with the world.

“Spring Awakening” was also a big hit for Bellevue College drama, a controversial rock musical set in late 19th century Germany. BC students were not afraid to incorporate contentious topics such as abortion, homosexuality, child abuse and rape in their performance.

“You need to step out of your own comfort zone to give the audience their money’s worth,” said Dugan.

The Bellevue College Composer’s Studio has also harbored intense artistic creativity and talent this year. Nearly 50 new musical pieces were composed among Dr. Brian Cobb’s music students, including jazz combos, string trios, quartets and single line melodies.

The composition program revolves around a two-year cycle and features a different compositional medium for every academic quarter. On average, each student creates two original works and one arrangement of pre-existing music per quarter.

“I have students ranging from first–time composers to very ambitious composers who will undoubtedly transfer to a four-year music school,” said Dr. Cobb, composition instructor at Bellevue College.

Students are given challenging assignments to refine their skills and build a diverse composition portfolio.

Dr. Cobb’s favorite composition project this year was called “World in Motion.” “The students were required to find a single sound sample from the non musical ‘natural’ world that was no longer than 30 seconds. The assignment was to create a one-minute miniature piece, using only manipulations of the original source as musical material,” said Dr. Cobb. Composition student Stephen Goree mixed the tracks together and uploaded a mix on .

In Spring Quarter, second-year composition students had the special opportunity of having their music performed and critiqued live by professional musicians. “My philosophy as a composition teacher is to help guide the students to realize their musical vision and, most importantly, to complete it,” said Dr. Cobb.

Maria D’Angelo was a second-year theory student this year. She was enrolled in audio production and private instruction for jazz piano.

“The string quartet performance was really fulfilling. It was inspiring to hear my fellow student’s original pieces performed along with my own,” she said, reflecting on the professional performance of her composition “La Promenade.”

“There is so much more depth to a piece when it’s performed by professional musicians. We listened to our pieces evolve through the quarter on computers and they sounded great, but to have them played by a professional quartet made the music much more alive and beautiful,” she said.

BC students perform several choral, jazz choir, jazz big band and chamber music concerts each quarter. The jazz choir is active on and off-campus.

The small jazz combos prepare to perform at the end of the quarter. “I’ll be looking to bring in more professionals to engage in public reading of student compositions,” said Dr. Cobb.

BC students are encouraged to attend theatre productions, instrumental performances and learn artistic skills that will enrich their lives.

Visit the BC events calendar for performance updates.