It’s obvious when someone is playing an instrument, sculpting or painting, but it’s tough to tell who is composing music.
That’s one of the reasons Sally Schlichting, organizer of the Con Brio Chamber Series, was surprised by the number of local composers available to contribute to the upcoming showcase of all original compisitions performed by local musicians.
“I asked a couple of people who I know were writing music, and I was told there was a composers group that’s been meeting periodically,” Schlichting told the Capital City Weekly. “It’s been a really good opportunity to connect to people. It was surprising.”
Twelve works by seven composers, including members of the local composers group, will be performed at a pair of pay-what-you-can concerts 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4, at Northern Light United Church.
Who composes the group
Jim Noel, who composed three pieces for the concert, said the composers group started recently.
“Basically, (fellow composer) Michael Bucy is the person who got the idea for that,” Noel said. “About a year ago, I started talking to Mike and we chatted, and he mentioned he had the idea of getting a local composer’s group together. There’s about a half dozen of us or so. Most of us have pieces in this concert.”
Composers whose work will be played include Michael Busy, Rob Cohen, William Todd Hunt, Beth Leibowitz, Artemio Sandoval, Luke Weld and Noel.
Noel said the group helps with encourage him to continue writing music — even if he is in the habit of working on music while drinking his morning coffee.
“It does push me to produce,” he said. “It’s motivating. It’s a learning experience.”
It also resulted fairly directly in one of the pieces Noel created for the concert — a brass quintet piece that reflects different periods in music history.
“We get together, and we decide we’re all going to write a piece for the same set of instruments,” Noel said. “Then we set some parameters for what the compositions are going to be like.”
A classical sampler platter
Those involved with the Local Composers concert said there’s substantial variety in the original pieces.
“There’s a really good variety among the compositions,” said composer Beth Leibowitz. “And of course, all of the composers are playing in each other’s stuff. ‘I’ll play in your piece if you play in my piece.”
The pieces are all relatively short — about three to five minutes each.
“They’re like little bon-bons of music,” Schlichting said. “Each composer brings a separate style to the table. All the composers are sort of fascinated by each other.”
For example, composer Rob Cohen’s pieces have an obvious jazz influence, Schlichting said, while Leibowitz said her pieces both draw primarily from folk dance.
Noel also has a jazz background but said he wouldn’t describe any of his works register as particularly indebted to the genre, even if its influence is there.
“I would say none of these pieces sound like a jazz tune but coming from jazz I get into a lot of unusual kind of harmonies,” Noel said.
Hoping to play well with others
Both Con Brio Local Composers concerts are going to be pay-what-you-can performances.
Schlichting said that’s to help reach as large of an audience as possible, and to allow folks to see the show twice if they’re so inclined.
“We want people to feel free to come to both performances, that’s part of the reason it’s pay what you can,” Schlichting said. “It’s really helpful to hear a piece more than once.”
Plus, composer Leibowitz said all of the composers love an audience.
Schlichting said it’s hoped the event will raise the public profile of an art form that can go unnoticed, and possibly lead to some collaborative art.
“We really hope these performances will really open the doors for future insights and collaborations,” Schlichting said. “We’d like to do film and music, poetry and music, prose and music. We also hope it raises awareness of the artform of composition, which has really emerged in Juneau over the last several years.”
Know & Go
What: Con Brio Chamber Series Presents Local Composers
When: 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3, and 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 4.
Where: Northern Light United Church, 400 W. 11th St.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.