Cole W Thornton is a senior at Lake Forest College, graduating this December with a major in Music. He is from Fresno, California and plans to pursue a graduate degree in music composition.
Being a young composer is tough. It should come as no surprise that a new composer writing new music would have a difficult time getting performances of his or her work, especially in the field of “Classical Music.”
Schools such as Lake Forest College, however, offer an alternative to the big university music department or music conservatories, and for the self-motivated composer, can offer more opportunities for performances. I chose Lake Forest college for that very reason; I had attended California State University Fresno for a year and a half and was disappointed with the difficulty of getting new music performed and the rigid framework that the department put composition students into.
The Lake Forest College music department not only welcomed me with open arms, but allowed me the freedom to find and refine my compositional voice. My first semester at Lake Forest I had a work performed by the Experimental Music Group, which is a marked contrast from the three semesters at Cal State Fresno without a single public performance. The rigidity and structure of a large university probably works well for some students, but for a composer who wants to write a concert work for two ukuleles, a choral piece on the text of Dante, aleatoric graphic scores, and ambient electronic music, along with a host of other disparate projects, a more malleable music program is needed.
I’m having a concert on Tuesday, Nov 17 to showcase the work I have been doing while at Lake Forest, and only at Lake Forest can I have the chairman of the music department playing ukulele and singing, and the guitar teacher, James Baur, championing my solo guitar music (he played a few of the pieces on Tuesday’s program this past spring in Glencoe).
Not only will faculty and students be playing in the concert, they will be attending, which brings me to the point of all of this: Lake Forest offers a great community of students and faculty that are always doing something interesting and are interested in doing (or seeing or listening to) something. Small schools like Lake Forest don’t have the same type of reputation or name recognition of the big universities, but they offer great opportunities for the students and the surrounding communities that are more intimate, and ultimately more meaningful.
More about the author, Cole W. Thornton:
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