'Music in the Shape of a Pear': Luther College to host semi-annual music event

The Decorah High School Concert Choir will join seven Luther faculty and six Luther students for the Luther College semi-annual "Music in the Shape of a Pear" concert. Steve Smith, Luther composition and electronic music faculty member, will direct this spring's concert at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 17, in the Noble Recital Hall of the Jenson-Noble Music Hall on the Luther campus.

The event is open to the public with no charge for admission.

The Decorah High School Concert Choir is conducted by Jason Rausch and will perform Smith's "Haiku Season." Traditional Japanese haiku contain a kigo, a word or phrase that symbolizes or implies a particular season. The piece uses one haiku for each season. The Decorah high school choir first performed one section about two years ago; Smith completed the piece and they performed it again last December.

The Luther faculty portion of the concert features Luther's Du Huang on piano performing a solo piece by Smith titled, "Meditation." Brooke Joyce, piano, and Jacob Lassetter, baritone, will come together to perform "This is Just to Say with Variations" and Rachel Ware, soprano, will showcase a voice and electronic piece titled, "Studies in Light."

The concert also includes a premiere of Smith's "The Girl's Crooked Reel Interrupted by the Boy's Waltz" featuring Sarah Guhl, class of 2013, violin, Phuc Phan, class of 2013, cello, Jordan Buchholtz, class of 2013, piano and Luther's Heather Armstrong on oboe.

Smith's piece, "Silver" will feature a Luther student ensemble including Dan Fernelius, class of 2013, violin, Angela Kratchmer, class of 2013, viola, Phan on cello and Guhl on violin.                                   

A special highlight of the concert is a new collaborative work titled, "Drowning in Air," that combines music and dance featuring Amanda Hamp, Luther professor of dance, and Smith along with dancers Ari Maguina, class of 2013, and local artist Kindra Windish. The collaborative piece is choreographed by Hamp and draws inspiration from an episode of the radio show "This American Life," in which a young girl receives a donor heart and struggles with the idea of meeting the donor's family and the significance of such a gift. This will be Smith and Hamp's second "Music in the Shape of a Pear" collaboration.

Smith teaches composition and electronic music and serves as a web programmer at Luther. He holds a bachelor's degree in music from Luther and a master's degree in composition from the University of North Texas, where he studied with Cindy McTee. Smith sings, plays guitar, bass and ukulele in various groups and served as music director/guitarist for Luther's 2011 production of "Spring Awakening."

Luther College faculty member, Steve Smith, will conduct 'Music in the Shape of a Pear.'