Truman State University’s Department of Music and Sigma Alpha Iota are hosting the annual North Star Music Festival Concert Oct. 25 and 26. The festival will feature student and faculty composers and will premiere a piece written specifically for the festival by guest composer Ivette Herryman Rodríguez.
Festival Director Victor Marquez said North Star has been a campus tradition for over 20 years. The festival features contemporary music, which Marquez defines as music that has been composed within the last 50 years.
“The general perception in the world of art and music is that all composers are dead because most orchestras play music by dead composers like Beethoven and Mozart,” Marquez said. “These composers wrote amazing music, but there’s a new music community, a large number of living composers creating music today and, in my opinion, that music is easier for us to relate to. These composers wrote in a reality that is much more similar to our reality.”
This is Marquez’s first year as director of North Star. He said the general structure of the festival is similar to previous years which featured Truman’s various choirs and ensembles. Marquez said North Star is funded through a Funds Allotment Council grant, which allows the festival to fly in a guest composer to debut a piece written specifically for one of Truman’s performance groups. This year Rodríguez is the guest composer, and she has composed a piece for Truman’s wind symphony.
Marquez said the festival planning is done by Sigma Alpha Iota, an international music fraternity. This group of female music students help Marquez with the details of the festival, and many of the members participate musically. Shayla Hinson, co-chair of the North Star Music Festival Committee for Sigma Alpha Iota, said the festival features many different kinds of music.
“Contemporary music has a wide variety of directions it can go,” Hinson said. “Sometimes you’ll listen to it and think to yourself, ‘Wow, what just happened?’ but just try to appreciate it for what it is. Allow the music to take you where it will take you.”
Hinson said on the second day of the festival there will be a student-driven recital. This will feature contemporary music written and performed by students. The recital adds variety to the festival and allows students to showcase their work.
“There’s a new cycle of music every year because there is always new music coming out, whether it’s professional composers or student composers,” Hinson said. “There are at least two pieces this year composed by two graduate students at Truman.”
One of the graduate students is Adam Grim. Grim graduated from Ohio Northern University in the spring, making this his first year with the festival. He urges students to attend North Star to get a better sense of what Truman’s music community can provide.
“We are extremely lucky to have all of this being brought to Truman,” Grim said. “Many of the works being presented are not typically being performed for the general public to see, especially for free.”
The festival features two main concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There will also be two smaller concerts and a meet and greet with guest composer Rodríguez during the day on Saturday. All concerts are held in the Ophelia Parrish building and admission is free and open to the public.