Posted January 21, 2008

Artists-in-residence help students develop their art

Artists-in-residence help students develop their art

Ryan Oliver, student composer
Photo Ryan S. Brandenberg/ Temple University
Graduate composition student Ryan Olivier worked with a group of professional artists who helped him grow as a composer.
Graduate composition student Ryan Olivier couldn’t help but feel a little nervous while traveling via subway to the Upper West Side in Manhattan. He’d been to New York before, but this trip was different. This time he was alone and on his way to meet with members of Momenta String Quartet.

“It was overwhelming,” Olivier said. “I’m from New Orleans, and that’s not a small city. But New York is something different; New York is where people come to actually start their careers.”

As he rode the subway, looking over his composition, checking and double-checking his notations, his thoughts raced.


He imaged the countless young artists who, like himself, came to the city with dreams of sharing their art with the world. Now he was among them and just a step away from realizing a part of his dream.

When he finally arrived at violinist Annaliesa Place’s apartment, his case of nerves quickly subsided. The setting wasn’t quite what he’d imagined.

“When I walked in, they were all sitting on stools, rehearsing, in Annaliesa’s bedroom,” he said. “The space was pretty small; there was no room for another stool, so they offered me a seat on the bed.”

After he got settled, the group broke from rehearsal to go over his composition. Each member of the quartet took a turn going over his work, offering suggestions and asking questions about his composition, which he had titled String Quartet.

“I could tell that they really took the time to go over each measure, notation and tempo marking,” Olivier said. “They didn’t just carelessly go over it.”

After the question-and-answer session, Olivier watched as the quartet prepared to rehearse his piece. He wasn’t sure what to expect; he’d tried to have students perform his work in the past, but the rhythm proved to be too complicated for less experienced performers.

His doubts dissipated as they played the first note. As the melody from Olivier’s composition filled the room, he finally heard his music they way he’d imagined.

“It was great; I just sat there the whole time, amazed,” he said.

Throughout the year, students like Olivier are given the rare opportunity to work with professional artists who guide them through the creative process and help them grow as performers and composers.

In addition to Momenta, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra also serves as an artist-in-residence for student musicians and composers. Both groups offer master classes, insight on the business of music, direction on how to perform and more.

Our part in the process has largely been to help the student composer,” said Momenta violinist Miranda Cuckson. “We give a lot of feedback and make suggestions on how the student can bring their work to life. It makes the learning process more effective when students get to hear their work.”

On Nov. 28, 2007, Momenta performed Olivier’s work during an artist-in-residence recital in Rock Hall. The concert also included the world premiere of Agustin Fernandez’s String Quartet No. 1 Montes.

On Jan. 24, graduate student composers Richard McIntyre, David Carpenter and Adam Dieffenbach and undergraduate student William Dougherty will have an opportunity to hear their work performed professionally.

When: Thursday, Jan. 24 2008 at 7:30PM
What: Artists-in-Residence Recital: Momenta String Quartet

Featuring string quartets by and Alfred Schnittke as well as student compositions by Richard McIntyre, David Carpenter, William Dougherty and Adam Dieffenbach.
Where: Rock Hall Auditorium