Mines Orchestra Showcases Student Compositions

There are collections of people on Mines’ campus that one never expects—groups who carve out a niche in the Mines stratosphere. There they could be writing the next Catcher In The Rye, adding the last spray of paint to a daring work of art, or composing a symphony in the passion driven style of Brahms. These creative talents are rarely on display and often forgotten in the midst of Fluid Mechanics and matrix determinants.

There are times when that forgotten creativity ventures forth into the larger sphere and puts its work on display. On Sunday, March 6th at 2 PM, the Mines orchestra, comprised of 46 dedicated musicians, will be putting on a show like none other.

In the upcoming concert, the orchestra will play works of music composed by the students of Mines. Three student composers, Nicholas Masching, Emily Spence, and Alison Turchi, handed their scores to Conductor Maggie Greenwood and their music to the dedicated musicians. Over the past two months, the orchestra has been practicing in order to do their peers’ work justice.

Nicholas Masching is a Computer Science senior, but he has also been playing viola for twelve years. His composition, Searching For A Dream, was finished last winter break after two months. He “struggled in the beginning” but eventually found the inspiration to complete his two-page journey.

When asked what meaning the piece held, he said, “you don’t know what [your dream] is and you’re trying to find it”—something many people can relate to. Although Nicholas still has not found his own dream, he has told a beautifully emotional story in its pursuit.

Emily Spence is a sophomore in the mechanical engineering department, but she has also written a full orchestral composition in just one day—the first snow day that Colorado School of Mines has experienced in five years. Inspiration struck the young cellist during that rare day, and her piece, Dagger, set itself, measure by measure, upon the page. This is Emily’s first song, so she is understandably nervous about its debut. Though she is inexperienced as a composer, she has brought a beautifully haunting piece to life here at Mines.

Alison Turchi has the most pieces out of the student composers in the upcoming concert. Not all are for the full orchestra, but the collection demonstrates a range of exploration with many musical techniques. Her four works, Storytelling, Kinetics, Harmonics, and Always, each communicate to the listener in new and interesting ways.

Maggie Greenwood has been conducting the Mines orchestra for the past two years, but she is no stranger to sitting in the chair with a clarinet or a saxophone. During her time as conductor, she has come to appreciate “seeing music from both sides.” And along the way she has also seen the dual nature of Mines’ students.

She is very excited about the upcoming concert. “[It is] showing, not just telling, that Mines students are more than just engineers.” This idea speaks very strongly to many of the students here on campus—whether they express this through art, theater, poetry, karate, or hiking in Nepal. The Mines students have a “broad set of talents” and this concert is one exceptional example.

This concert offers a lot to enjoy, from cello choirs to original music to The Pirates of Penzance. It is a promise of an afternoon of entertainment put on by fellow Mines students.

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