Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Senior composition major hopes his music gives meaning to listeners

Friday, December 1, 2017

A recital is a requirement for the Bachelor of Music Degree. Southeast composition major Jesse Steele held his Senior Composition Recital on Thursday Nov. 30.

Four pieces composed by him were performed by some of his classmates. His final piece was a musical tale for all.

“My hope is to give meaning to people’s lives through art, music and storytelling,” he said.

“The Gnome and Cat: A Musical Take for All,” was an original piece by Jesse Steele and illustrated by Haligh Givens. The music in the piece was performed by Allie Movesian, flute; Jacob May, clarinet; Ashley Mautka, bassoon; Lexx Amacker, horn; Daniel Fitzpatrick, piano/synthesizer and Paul Thompson narrated the story.

Southeast piano performance major Daniel Watkins said it has been a while since a student here at Southeast has composed a piece of music that goes along with a story.

Steele said the inspiration for this piece was made upon listening to Prokofiev’s setting of ‘Peter and the Wolf’ with Patrick Stewart narrating. Almost immediately he began writing this short fantasy.

Southeast Junior Payton Ayers said he has heard other musical tales performed by other artists but Steele’s took a different path and compared to most of the other tales Ayers has listened to his had a thicker and darker plot. The plot is a fictional tale between a cat and a gnome on a journey but takes a realistic turn when the selling of a young girl comes into the picture.

The tale ended with a quote, “Speak and live the truth, face what you fear and let your curiosity call you forward.”

The other three major pieces that were in his recital were “Subsequent Times” played by Southeast’s Classical Guitar, Guitar Ensemble, Adjunct Faculty Patrick Rafferty; “Sounding Call,” performed by Junior Evan Watkins; “Softly and Tenderly,” performed by Amanda Nahm, violin; Jeremy Bates, voice and Evan Watkins, piano.

“As a composer, one of my strongest influences has been the music of Charles Ives,” Steele said.

Steele said Ives used hymns to combine familiar sounds with chaos.

“Softly and Tenderly” was a familiar hymn to him from his childhood, as he continued playing it he found himself slightly changing the music and creating his own version of the hymn.

Steele started as a composition major his freshman year, playing trumpet and shortly after that he started taking guitar lessons.

As a sophomore he moved onto classical guitar performance.

“I wanted to be able to use my voice while I was playing,” Steele said.

He became interested in music when he received his first Beatles album as a five year old from his father who was a former DJ.

“I watched all the Beatles movies and listened and memorized all their songs,” Steele said.

Music was always a drastic part of his life, along with Steele his brother also taught himself how to play the guitar.

“Subsequent Times” was performed with a guitar after originally being sketched as a piano piece.

“This piece moves from harsh dissonances to lighter diatonic harmonies,” he said.

“Sounding Call” was performed as a piano piece, originally written for harpsichord imitating the sound of a guitar.

Steele said that the advice he would give beginner musicians is to not worry about where you are at but worry about where you are going.

“Everyone starts out being really bad before you’re really good,” he said.