Students Compose Music for Grammy Winners

Monday, Apr. 21, 2014 9:58 am

One class of Grinnell students is taking advantage of a unique opportunity: composing music for a Grammy-winning vocal ensemble.

Roomful of Teeth will present a performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 27 in Sebring-Lewis Hall. It will be the premiere of several works by students of this semester’s Collaborative Arts course, a team-taught course that brings together student artists, writers, and composers.

This performance and exhibition will include:

  • Music by members of the Composition Seminar, taught by John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music;
  • Art objects created by members of professor Lee Running’s Advanced Studio: Site Specific art class; and
  • Works of micro-fiction written by members of the Fiction Seminar, taught by English professor Dean Bakopoulos.

The event is a good example of the collaboration that occurs regularly at Grinnell, which emphasizes academic strength, innovation, mentoring, and individualized study.

Earlier in the semester, the students became acquainted with the ensemble via Skype.  The students sent their scores to the ensemble. The ensemble will arrive in Grinnell a few days before the concert to review the compositions and rehearse.

Earlier in the semester, the students taking these classes collaborated, with help from artist-in-residence Scott Hocking, to create a series of site-specific installations. More than 100 people walked through the guided tour, stopping off at the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Herrick Chapel, Noyce Science Center, and even the Bear Center pool.

The class’ final project of the semester, on May 5, will be a presentation of a number of collaborative video-based projects that were conceived during artist-in-residence Katie McGowan’s visit in February. McGowan’s genre-bending, multimedia art explores the boundaries of mind/body discipline and ideology.

About Roomful of Teeth

The Roomful of Teeth ensembleRoomful of Teeth’s debut CD received a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance earlier this year. The group formed in 2009.

In April 2013, ensemble member Caroline Shaw received the Pulitzer Prize in Music for Partita, the four movements of which appear on the ensemble’s debut album. The 30-year-old composer is the youngest recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in music ever.  The ensemble has quickly come to play a leading role in modern vocal performance, through their expansion of styles across cultures, through their many commissions, and through projects such as this one.