Kate Koenig, Arts Editor
This upcoming Friday, November 11, SUNY Oneonta’s Fine Arts building will provide the setting for the premier of Professor Jeremy Wall’s dedication piece to the new wing. Entitled “Songs of Peace,” the approximately 50-minute work is comprised of nine songs played in sequence, drawing on elements of jazz, pop, classical and world music.
Containing a variety of musical styles, “Songs of Peace” is a labor of Prof. Wall’s love for diversity and celebration of coexisting forms of art and ideas. Looking for a multicultural approach and not thinking of himself as a lyricist, he drew upon religious writings for lyrics, including passages from Muslim, Jewish and Christian texts. Having visited Morocco last June, Wall attended many festivals of traditional Moroccan music, which he used as an inspiration for the themes of the first five songs of the work. The remaining songs include an R & B gospel piece, and a Brazilian samba which closes out the entire piece. “It’s about embracing the many different cultures of the world, because it has music with an international flavor,” says Wall, while going on to say that “World music is a great interest of mine, and I’m constantly incorporating world music influences into the music that I write.” A Grammy-nominated composer, Wall has had roughly 70 of his compositions recorded, including his work done with the Grammy-nominated jazz-fusion group Spyro Gyra, of which he was a founding member.
“Songs of Peace” will be performed by a collection of over 50 musicians including the Chamber Orchestra, the Chamber Singers and the World Percussion Ensemble, all of SUNY Oneonta. Several professors from the music department will also be a part of the performance, in addition to the opening act GlobeTrotting. GlobeTrotting is a new group, made up of Steve Gorn on bansuri flutes, clarinet and soprano sax, John Davey on double-bass and Brian Melick, playing percussion instruments from around the world. The trio recently released their new CD “You Are Here,” and will be performing for the first half of the program, with Wall sitting in on piano for the last song of their set.
The performance of the piece has been highly anticipated throughout the department, and Wall is ecstatic about the nearing of its presentation. By coincidence, the Biblical texts Wall selected for the lyrics of the piece were the same as the ones his mother chose for his father’s memorial service, which is why he has chosen to dedicate the performance to his father. Of his work, Wall states “I think it overall has a very dynamic, emotional range—it takes you on a journey in sound and word,” and was especially excited about the “slammin’” Brazilian samba at the end. Buzz from some of the musicians involved conveys further excitement, as student performer Yolanda Sun describes the music as something she’s found great enjoyment in playing.
The piece will be performed in the large rehearsal room of the new wing, Room 201, at 8 p.m. this Friday. The program will be divided into two parts, featuring the performance by GlobeTrotting in the first half, followed by an intermission with remarks by President Nancy Kleniewski and Chair of the Music Department Dr. Orlando Legname, then closing with “Songs of Peace.”