Here's the challenge: Write some music appropriate for a 60-to 70-member choir to perform during the inaugural ceremony for the president of your own university.
When that suggestion was offered to W.T. Skye Garcia at the end of the spring semester, the ECU instructor of music and noted composer first thought, "three months is not long enough."
At the end of May, however, Garcia put everything aside and the creative process began.
"During the first two weeks, I selected the text," Garcia said. "Having accomplished this, I was convinced I could make it work."
The text, based on quotes he had found, was approved, and over the summer he came up with the titles of the five movements and wrote "For the Love of Knowledge."
The piece will be performed a capella by the University Chorus during the inauguration of Dr. Richard Rafes as ECU's seventh president at 2 p.m. Friday [SEPT. 28] in Kerr Activities Center. The public is invited.
The chorus is directed by Dr. Steve Walker, professor of music. Dr. Ben Finley, assistant professor of music, and ECU music major David Milam will assist on percussion.
"I am very satisfied with how it came out," Garcia said. "I started with the cornerstones of my philosophy of teaching. I wanted the work to be a reflection of that. Over the past 20 years of teaching at ECU, I have come across several special quotes that I regularly share with students as I'm teaching them how to teach. These quotes have served as a guide to my own teaching."
The first movement, "Reverence," has a very traditional choral texture with a text from Proverbs 1:7, "The fear (loving reverence) of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."
"The second movement, 'Inspiration,' is imitative, in the style used predominately from 1600 to 1750, the Baroque Period," Garcia said. "The text dates back to the Greek philosopher Plutarch and says that a child is not a vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit, meaning teaching should inspire students to find out things for themselves."
Give a man a fish, the Chinese proverb says, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life. That is the basis for the third movement, "Creativity," which musically is somewhat primitive sounding, Garcia explained, because of the simplicity of the text. Two conga drums and a ratchet will join the choir to add to the primal sound.
Garcia believes that education can provide creative means to solve problems not just for the immediate moment but for a lifetime.
The next movement, "Discovery," subtitled E=MC2, is based on an Albert Einstein quote, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."
"In contrast to 'Creativity,' the music here is very modern sounding," Garcia said, "almost chaotic, which is in many ways a reflection of life in the 20th century. Amidst this chaos, the search continues to discover truth in new contexts."
The final movement, "Guidance," goes back to a religious theme and uses a familiar quote by Reinhold Niebuhr from about 1920: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."
Garcia suggests that the name of each movement can be inserted before the overall title to complete its meaning, as "Reverence for the Love of Knowledge" or "Inspiration for the Love of Knowledge."
Garcia also highlighted particular voice parts in each movement. Sopranos are prominent in the first movement, with altos and tenors highlighted in "Inspiration." Almost all of the melody is sung by the basses in "Creativity" and all four voices are equal in "Discovery." The final "Guidance" uses the standard practice of making soprano voices the focal point of the music.
"This composition is very intricately written," Garcia said. "It can be heard and appreciated at many different levels."
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