Variations on the theme occur every fall. You arrive on campus, full of expectation. One week later, you’re full of trepidation. A week later, you’re out of the woods. You might talk about your shifting moods, or write about them, or keep them to yourself. But if you’re Dylan Travers ’11, you write them into music.
Not long after he arrived at Wooster, Travers, a music composition major, wrote, “Waltz Through Uncharted Woods,” a short piece for orchestra, to fulfill a class assignment. “I wrote the piece in a light, whimsical style to parallel starting a new life at college with the sort of childhood excitement you get when exploring the woods,” he explains.
“Every now and then there are dark spots that begin to sound menacing, reflecting the difficult choices and situations you face when transitioning from one place in life to another. But these spots accelerate and build, and then finally explode and transform into something great.”
Music composition faculty members teach musical form, but encourage each student to “develop their own language” says Christopher Rutkowski, visiting assistant professor, who advised Travers. “Dylan, for example, has ideas that are immediately attractive. He doesn’t have to labor to create an interesting melody or harmonic sequence. And that degree of ease can’t be taught.”
The Wooster Symphony Orchestra gave Travers’ waltz its world premiere in November 2008. At many colleges, the opportunity for undergraduates to hear their compositions performed is rare, says Rutkowski, but at Wooster, the music department includes five faculty members who are active composers and work closely with colleagues to include student compositions in performance repertory. “There’s a wonderful sense of communication and collaboration here; we can make these things happen quickly,” he says.
Travers’ work in progress is a string quartet, titled H2O, which reflects aspects of water. Contrasting dynamics and moods are represented in the movements that he has tentatively titled “Steam,” “Ice,” and “Mist.” A movement of the quartet will be performed by the College’s student ensemble in their string concert.
Becoming a professional composer —possibly for movies—is Travers’ career goal. He chose to attend Wooster, he says, because of its welcoming environment and high ranking in the book Colleges That Change Lives.
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