MU celebrates International Day of Collaborative Music

MU celebrated the International Day of Collaborative Music with a concert.

Leo Saguiguit plays the saxophone as part of the International Day of Collaborative Music on Saturday in Whitmore Recital Hall. The day aims to bring attention to the importance of making music together around the world.

The School of Music joined musicians across Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada Saturday to hold a concert as part of the International Day of Collaborative Music, a day devoted to making collaborative music around the world.

The performers included the Esterhazy Quartet, Trio Chymera, the Missouri Quintet and Zou Brass. The musicians performed several pieces while relying on group cooperation to direct themselves, in absence of conductors.

“For decades and decades there was this feeling that if you couldn’t play solo music, then you play with others, and that really isn’t true,” said Janice Wenger, the MU professor of music who organized the concert. “You can’t play well with others if you can’t play well on your own.”

The celebratory concert was part of the Year of Collaborative Music, which began in March of 2010, and is the brainchild of the Music Teachers National Association, Wenger said.

Wenger was the chief architect of YOCM and was on the MTNA board of directors during its conception.

“The national association decided that we needed a year to celebrate making music together,” Wenger said. “What we did then was contact all the other national music associations, and they all signed on. All of them agreed to feature some sort of collaborative music at their conferences, articles about collaborative music in their journals and performances.”

The YOCM concert gave professor of voice Christine Seitz the rare opportunity to perform collaboratively with a string quartet.

“You don’t always get the opportunity to perform collaboratively,” Seitz said. “I’ve had a few pieces on my bucket list -- pieces that I would really like to do in a collaborative setting, for a long time, especially this piece by Respighi. I’ve only had a chance to do (the piece) once in my life, 20 years ago. The International Day of Collaborative Music’s concert gave me the chance to do so.”

YOCM will culminate with the MTNA national conference in Milwaukee, Wis., where it will premier three new pieces commissioned specifically for the YOCM.

“It’s a really exciting component of this whole year of collaborative music, to create music that will continue and that teachers can use,” Wenger said. “I see (collaborative music) as having pedagogical interest, as well as artistic ones.”

Practicing music can be an isolating activity, but collaborative music is a much different experience, Wenger said.

“Having a chance to play with others develops our ability to hear and play at the same time, and doing it so young really develops an enthusiasm for it,” Wenger said.

Leo Saguiget is a professor of saxophone at MU and performed in Trio Chymera on Saturday. Saguiget said collaborative music promotes new music and musical cooperation between instrumentalists and composers.

“You’re not only working with specific instruments but you also have the personalities of the people in mind and what they’re capable of doing on their instruments,” Saguiget said. “I think that’s a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful experience when shared with an audience.”

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