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About the School of Music

Joseph Bakke '16
Joseph Bakke '16 performs "English Horses" at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference.

Student Research Spotlight

Joseph Bakke '16

Piano & Vocal Performance at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference 2014


"'English Horses' is a neo-romantic work for piano and voice that combines aspects of late romantic piano genres with the songs of Cole Porter and other turn-of-the-century songwriters. The harmonic aspects of the piece were inspired by the piano works of Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms while the formal and lyrical structures are more related to modern songwriting. The purpose of this combination of seemingly different genres is to blend the lines of classical piano idioms and modern songwriting composition in a way that can be relatable to a wider audience."

Watch Joseph's performance.


Christopher Grills '14
Caitlyn Trevor '14 conducts an original composition, "Alchemy," at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference.

Caitlyn Trevor '14

Performance at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference 2014

Collection of original compositions for the harpsichord

"'Prague' is a collective work containing a three-movement composition, three dance costumes, and three solo dances all inspired by my time abroad in the Czech Republic, February-May, 2012. While there, I learned a great deal about the history of the country from an arts perspective. Each movement focuses on a different aspect of their history as well as my personal experiences living there. This movement, 'Alchemy,' is inspired by both the Czech Republic during the National Revival and the long Czech tradition of alchemy. The golden age of alchemy, during the 16th century, was long before the National Revival in the 18th and 19th century. However, the strong creative energy of the National Revival resonates well with the chemical energy of alchemy. The many themes and the every-changing quality of this piece are inspired by these chemical qualities that alchemy implies. Throughout these themes, I strived to keep a line of energy flowing throughout the entire piece to reflect the incredible creative vitality and drive of the National Revival. The color pallet for the costume design contains reds, oranges, and gold to connect to alchemy's goal of turning metals into gold as well as to match the lively ingenuity and pride of the National Revival."

Watch Caitlyn's performance.


Christopher Grills '14
Christopher Grills '14 performing at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference.

Christopher Grills ’14

Piano Performance at the John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference 2014

Collection of original compositions for the harpsichord

"Soon after I came to Illinois Wesleyan as a piano performance major, I discovered a beautiful harpsichord that Minor Myers, jr. had purchased for the University in 1993. I fell in love with the instrument, and realized that I had been playing the wrong keyboard instrument the whole time. I have now been accepted to a number of prestigious schools for graduate studies in historical performance, but as a composer I have also been interested in new music for the harpsichord. I composed and arranged 20-30 individual pieces during my four years here specifically idiomatic to the harpsichord (e.g. not playable on the piano, organ, etc.). These works collectively form a group appropriately named after similar collections by French composers of the 17th and 18th centuries – Pieces de Clavecin. You will likely hear two short compositions from this collection at the conference."

Watch Christopher's performance.


John Wesley Powell Research Conference

The John Wesley Powell Student Research Conference was established as an annual event in 1990. Held in April each year, the conference provides an opportunity for students who are pursuing individual research projects to present those projects in a public forum. Research projects pursued by students at any level – freshman through senior – and in any academic program throughout the University are eligible to participate. Research can be presented either in a poster session format, in a (15-min) oral presentation or as a performance.