Discourse / Letters / May 25, 2011

Letters to the Editor: The Knox Chamber Ensemble

The Knox College Chamber Ensemble (KCCE), under the able leadership of Daniel Godsil, presented a program of works by Godsil and Knox student composers senior Ed Davis, sophomore Jake Hawyrlak and junior Sam Brownson. Davis’ “Detorunement Diabolique” was a study in the relative state of consonance and dissonance and the interaction of two complementary modes, the Lydian and Phrygian, that, in their scalar introduction, created a dichotomy of melodic and harmonic features that was both entertaining and thoughtful. Hawrylak’s love song, “From Long Ago” demonstrated a flare for melody and rich harmonies that created a melancholic, if not nostalgic atmosphere. Godsil’s effective “Sound Experiment ’54” or, ‘Death by Sexy'” reminds one of the cross-pollination of minimalistic repetitions of static harmonic blocks from the 1970’s coupled with an amusing and effective dialogue performed on a continually retuned electric guitar. Like Davis’ piece, Godsil’s was structurally solid and meant to be “fun.”

For me, while the other compositions were excellent, I was most impressed with the two songs, “Carolyn” and “Stasis” by Brownson that demonstrated a depth of innate musical character, a rich, evocative harmonic style, formal structures that were compliant and flexible and a most admirable gift for melody. In a conversation with Godsil after the performance, we both agreed that “Stasis” in particular was ready to be “cut and print” professionally.

It should also be noted that Godsil created accompanying orchestrations for Hawyrlak’s and Brownson’s songs that were outstanding complements to the already fine music created by our student composers. In this light, Godsil showed not only fine technical skill, but also a generous spirit of partnership that deserves respect and gratitude.

In sum, this concert of student composers, along with the work of a dedicated adjunct instructor in music, was one to be remembered for its technical excellence and spirit of inventiveness. My hope is that more of the Knox Community, much less the community at large, will take advantage of such fine music making and will support future KCCE concerts and Knox’s talented students with well deserved attendance.

Bruce Polay

Professor of Music

Bruce Polay

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