Wind ensemble performance, Fascinating Ribbons, wraps up Celebration of Scholarship

Robin Reid

The Department of Music University Wind Ensemble performed four pieces, closing out the Celebration of Scholarship, Thursday April 27. The 36-member band filled the stage in Akin Auditorium. The band members were dressed in all black, their brass and woodwind instruments making a stark contrast against their clothing. As they sat on stage, focused and ready to begin, they tuned their instruments, prepared to share the music from Fascinating Ribbons. Some pieces were energetic and loud, while others were more mellow, with softer sounds.

“Each year we’ve tried to go into it with a specific, thematic idea of what we’re going to do. Three years ago, the first time we did it, we did concerto. What that means, is collaboration. Celebration of Scholarship is very much about collaboration so for us, collaboration with professional musicians, means concertos,” Matthew Luttrell, associate professor of music and band director, said. “Last year we did a concert that was a mixture of jazz and really vibrant orchestral music. Last night, we played music written primarily by women.”

Beyond the purpose of performing music, is the band’s mission to raise awareness of the world and make people more aware of the world around them.

Gordon Hicken, assistant professor of music and associate director of bands, presents a performance of a new piece for saxophone and percussion at the Celebration of Scholarship Faculty and Graduate Student Poster and Podium Presentations on April 26. Photo by Timothy Jones

“For the next year, all of our concerts are being planned around cultural diversity, gender equality and social justice. Last night was the first time we had really done something of that vein,” Luttrell said. “The first three composers were Joan Tower, the second piece was done by Barbara York and then the third piece was by Julie Giroux. We ended with ‘La Fiesta Mexicana,’ music based primarily from the country of Mexico.”

Luttrell shares a love for both music and the students he instructs.

“I love to perform and I love working with the students. I really love working with them,” Luttrell said. “I thought the Julie Giroux piece ‘One Life Beautiful,’ that was dedicated to Ray Cramer’s daughter, came off extremely well. I thought it was beautifully played. I thought the group did a great job.”

Before the final number, Provost James Johnston announced 12 awards from the 95 projects shown during Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity forum presentations on April 26-April 27. Cash awards were also presented to three i.d.e.a MSU finalists. Two presenters won two different awards, taking home four, for their presentations.  Careisha Whyte, accounting and sociology senior, was one of those students. She and her research partner, Shirley Hazel conducted research over the terminology of legal assisted suicide. Whyte also conducted research over the ethical awareness of accounting students. She expressed gratitude for her research experiences and would recommend research to other students.

“I would encourage any student to participate in undergraduate research, particularly over a topic of interest to them, because it causes students to make inquiries and find answer those those questions, backed up by sound research that can blow their minds if they allow it to,” Whyte said. “The reason I did my projects is because I am passionate about each one.”

Mechanical engineering and physics senior, Michael Olaya, also won two awards for two of his projects, one for engineering and one first-place, $2,000 cash prize, for “Colony Robotics” for i.d.e.aMSU.

“Physics and mechanical engineering has forced me to recognize everything is a system.  We have to look at the entire system,” Olaya said. “That’s why I’m developing these robotic systems, because it allows us to view the planet for what it really is, which is one large, living organism. Our city is one large, living organism. Our campus is one large, living organism, and we have to view it as such.”

Olaya also appreciated his research experiences and said he would encourage fellow students to engage in research, while focusing on activity and working to learn a solution, being how a person learns.

“We have this notion that intelligence is a static noun, but really it’s a verb. It’s something that you do, it’s not something that you are,” Olaya said. “Research is a really good forcing function to make you become intelligent.”