Pop Quiz: November-December 2001

compiled by Lucas Schaefer '04


In the wake of September 11, we asked five undergraduate music majors:

What particular piece of music calms you during times of crisis?

Tom Clifton, a junior, finds solace in expressive music that speaks to the mood of the composer: "I listen to Arvo Part's 'Fratres' and his 'Tabula Rasa: Selentium.' They are pieces that actually make me believe the composer cried as he wrote them. Part has extricated pure human emotion from some incredible source and infused his pieces with it. Just to listen is to take part in humanity."


Sophomore Joe Keefe strikes a somewhat different note. He's drawn to a more popular repertoire, observing, "When I get stressed or upset, there isn't any specific type of music I listen to, but here are some examples: Everclear, 'Annabella's Song'; Aerosmith, 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing'; James Horner, 'The Wedding' from Deep Impact; Alan Sylvestri, 'The Feather Theme' from Forrest Gump; and any wind band arrangement of 'Danny Boy.'"


In seeking emotional relief, senior Meg Watson straddles musical traditions, from opera to Broadway. "I listen to turn of the twentieth-century opera, such as Verdi's later works and Puccini," she says. "There's something about the Verismo movement that seems, although over-dramatized at times, quite real or at least easier to identify with than the Bel Canto operas of the early nineteenth century. In particular, I love the music of La Boheme (Puccini), which reminds me of the Broadway show Rent (which bases itself not loosely, in fact quite directly, with a few modern twists, on Puccini's work). I love the music of La Boheme, so it relaxes me as well as keeps Broadway in the back of my mind, which is especially important in the wake of the events of 9/11 and the changes to theater in New York."


Kerry Watson, another senior (unrelated to Meg), says, "A piece of music that soothes me, especially in these times of trouble in our nation, is 'Ave verum corpus,' by W.A. Mozart. There is something about this song that almost transports me to another world when listening to it. Perhaps it is the soaring vocal melody, the words themselves, or the rich harmonies underneath. Or perhaps

it is knowing that Mozart himself wrote this toward the end of his life, and the song might have offered him some solace. But something in it seems to hold out a glimmer of hope to those in despair."


For senior Robbin Wood, being "sad or pensive" moves her to listen to "something slow and minor. A good example is Albinoni's 'Adagio for Strings and Organ.' Both classical and popular music can work, depending on the piece. If I'm feeling more upset or frustrated, then I sometimes listen to something more intense, maybe a Bruckner symphony. The agitation in the music seems to vent for me."

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