Steel Drum Concert Features Student Compositions

"Calypso Chaos" celebrates end of Winter Term, if not end of winter

March 12, 2013

Jeremy Day-O'Connell
Music faculty Jeremy Day-O'Connell plays a steel drum at annual end-of-winter Calypso Chaos concert

"Although I've been reading music for ten years now, I never attempted true composition until music theory," said Hannah Cloh, a first-year student from Northbrook, Illinois, after hearing one of her compositions featured in the annual "Calypso Chaos" steel drum concert by Knox College music students and faculty.

The informal performance, now in its third year, is held on the final day of Winter Term classes to showcase compositions by the students in Jeremy Day-O'Connell's Introduction to Music Theory course.

This year's concert was held the morning of Tuesday, March 11 -- what turned out to be a bright spot in between snow storms that occurred a week before and another a few hours after the performance.

During the term, Day-O'Connell said, "I have the students write a couple of tunes each, and I choose 15 of them to play in a medley. It's a great way to put music theory into practice, and hearing it performed is a satisfying experience for the students."

Cloh said she found the course "frightening and utterly challenging. I now know so much more and have the skills for understanding music at a deeper level... The class as a whole has granted me tools to improve my grasp on music and general performance."

The band that performed the student compositions consisted of music faculty Jeremy Day-O'Connell and Sarah Day O'Connell on steel drums; with students Jake Hawrylak, bass; and Sam Lewis, drums. This year, for the first time, the band performed twice -- a morning concert outside the Ford Center for Fine Arts and a noon-hour concert in the Gizmo snack bar in Seymour Union.

Jeremy Day-O'ConnellImmediately after the noon concert, Day-O'Connell, students and faculty carried the drums from the Union to the Fine Arts Center through a snow squall.

For some of the students, Day-O'Connell said, the course is their first exposure to reading or composing music.

"The students develop enough skills to compose four-bar melodies, some of which are really fun, really great. In subsequent music theory courses we write more and more ambitious pieces at the end of each term."

Another of the student composers, Linda Sanabria, a first-year from Altus, Oklahoma, came with previous musical experience, including writing short melodies. "I found, while taking the class, that there was so much more to learn," Sanabria said after the concert. "It was really nice to be able to hear my piece as well as those of my peers performed in an ensemble setting. After a challenging term, it was a reassuring achievement in the sense that I, as a student, used the tools provided to me well enough to create something. Professor Day-O'Connell is a most excellent theorist and an enthusiastic teacher. I'm looking forward to taking more theory classes."

Calypso Chaos at Knox College, March 12, 2013