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Jessica Hunt

Jessica Hunt

IWU First-Year Student Composes Score for Shakespeare Play

November 10, 2005    

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Jessica Hunt, a 17 year-old Illinois Wesleyan first-year music major has composed an original musical score for the university’s School of Theatre Arts production of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure.  The play is currently running Nov. 8-12 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. in the McPherson Theatre, 2 Ames Plaza East, Bloomington.

Born in Vancouver, Hunt moved to Normal when her father was offered a job as the chair of Illinois State University’s English department.  She is a 2005 graduate of University High School in Normal.

While Hunt was still in high school, she began taking voice lessons and, later, composition lessons at Illinois Wesleyan from Lecturer in Music Dawn Harris and Professor of Composition and Theory and Director of the School of Music Mario Pelusi, respectively.

Directed by IWU Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Tom Quinn, Measure For Measure is one of Shakespeare’s darker comedies and is known as one of his three “problem plays” because it leaves the audience with unanswered morality questions.

Hunt, inspired by the literary concepts of Measure For Measure, composed motifs that musically connects characters to the themes they represent.  Her composition for the character of Isabella, a novice nun and the heroine of the play, is a sweet and feathery motif which expressed the character’s common dramatic themes of chastity, purity, and fighting for what is right.  However, the music she created for the character of Pompey, one of the play’s many bawds, was of a much different tenor.  Hunt designed his music to be livelier and comedic, with a sense of promiscuity and spontaneity, all which accurately  represent the character’s themes of prostitution, pomp, and carelessness.

This compositional style is called leitmotiv, which is a musical process that Hunt describes as involving creating a theme for each main character that over the course of the performance, the audience begins to associate with the character.  Therefore, whether or not on stage, when the actor’s theme is played, the audience begins to think of that character.

As a former student of a performing arts high school, Hunt had been involved with theatre, but said she had never done anything quite like this.  “I’m excited.  I’m nervous.” Hunt said before Measure For Measure opened.  “If I mess up, it all comes back to me.  But if it’s good, it all comes back to me too.  That’s the double-edged sword, I know if I’ve gotten it right up to this point, everything I continue to write will be in the same vein.”

  After graduating from IWU, Hunt aspires to become a film composer.

Contact: Taylar Kuzniar, (309) 556-3181