Rome School Presents “Composition Area Concert” of Spring 2024


Image by Anthony Curioso

By Anthony Curioso

The Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art held its biannual Composition Area Concert in Ward Recital Hall on April 15 of this year, emceed by Dr. Stephen Gorbos, who is the head of the composition department.

The concert maintains a tradition that has been a mainstay in the Rome School, having taken place every semester since at least Fall 2013. The one exception to the tradition occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when the Catholic University of America (CUA) limited in-person activities.

Senior music composition major James Krom summarized his involvement in this semester’s concert.

“This semester, I’ve got a piece that I wrote that I’m also performing in, and I am also a featured performer in another student’s piece,” Krom said. “On top of that, every semester, all the composition majors help with publicity and managing other logistics for the concert.”

In addition to Krom’s piece (a piano sonata), the concert featured various other pieces in contrasting styles. These pieces were composed by sophomore music composition major Aidan Feeney, junior composition and philosophy double major Elizabeth Rexine, and graduate composition student Michael DeMarco. Feeney’s composition featured four pianists riffing off each other, Rexine’s featured five percussionists and actors, and DeMarco’s featured a soundscape for mallet percussion with electronics.

This concert served as a testament to the collaborative spirit of Rome School students; each student presenting a piece was responsible for finding their own performers and helping lead concert rehearsals, fostering a sense of community and togetherness.

The composition area concerts act as an avenue to demonstrate the unwavering dedication and exceptional talent of the undergraduate and graduate students in the Music Composition Department. It also provides a platform for these students to showcase the fruits of their diligent labor in private lessons.

As for the pieces themselves, audience members were taken on a rollercoaster of emotions: from the serenity of DeMarco’s soundscape to mourning in Krom’s sonata, angst in Feeney’s piano piece, and hysterical laughter in Rexine’s skit with percussion accompaniment. 

Krom reflected on how the composition program at Catholic University has helped him grow in many aspects of his musical and personal life.

“You study how to write on a technical level, you study varying repertoire, and you get the experience of being in a choir,” Krom said. “You also learn valuable life lessons that are especially relevant to composition but that one can use outside of it, such as being confident, being willing to take criticism, and reaching out to do networking.” As we close this semester, the Choir and Orchestra concert, taking place in the Hartke Theatre Main Stage on April 27 at 7:30 p.m., will soon display more students’ hard work.

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