Music students win scholarships for compositions

Steppenwolf Project Music Commission Winners -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Music alumnus Gerald Podraza commissioned new music for the upcoming Outside the Box music festival at SIUC. His instructions were simple -- the music must relate to the Herman Hesse novel, “Steppenwolf.” The scholarship recipients are, from left, Trefan Owen (Bloomington), William Shotton (Pinckneyville) and Justin Rodig (Woodstock). (Photo by Andrea Hahn) Download Photo Here

March 03, 2010

Music students win scholarships for compositions

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- How does a person guarantee new music for a festival highlighting new music? Well, if that person is Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumnus Gerald Podraza, he commissions it.

For this year’s Music Outside the Box music festival, Podraza, a School of Music alumnus, decided to share the inspiration he felt from the Herman Hesse novel “Steppenwolf.” Podraza initiated a scholarship contest for SIUC music students to create a work of music having to do with “Steppenwolf” and to be performed during the Music Outside the Box Festival.

This year, three students claimed the scholarship honor: Trefan Owen, from Bloomington, and William Shotten, from Pinckneyville, are the graduate student scholarship recipients, and Josh Rodig, from Woodstock, is the undergraduate scholarship recipient.

The students will see their compositions performed at 7:30 p.m. on April 2 in Altgeld Hall, during the festival. Outside the Box is an annual School of Music festival, coordinated by Kathleen Ginther, a composer and lecturer in musical composition at SIUC. The festival brings musicians to sites on and off campus for performances and master classes, in traditional and informal settings. The festival program emphasizes new music, much of it avant-garde or on the edges of standard music production.

The student compositions are all original, and created specifically for this event. Because “Steppenwolf” includes a saxophone player among its character roster, audiences can expect to hear that instrument represented in the compositions. Besides the compositions by the scholarship recipients, an improvisational set featuring SIUC faculty and the SIUC Percussion Group rounds out the evening. The performance is free.

Podraza is a former member of SIUC’s Collegium Musicum, a musical ensemble dedicated to early music. The ensemble was part of the recordings accompanying the Historical Anthology of Music, a standard collection of early music texts and recordings. Podraza functioned as assistant director. Today Podraza is a successful wine producer and the owner of Mount Hope Vineyard and Farm. He earned several medals for his wine at the 2009 Illinois State Fair.

A full schedule for Music Outside the Box will be available soon.