WRITTEN BY: GRACE LIESTMAN | STAFF WRITER
Sitting behind the piano at midnight on a Friday, senior and music composition major James Bishop rehearses for his senior recital that is on March 17th.
The Point: What is the theme or idea behind your recital?
James: The whole theme of the recital is birth, death and rebirth. It starts out with a violin and piano piece about the Witch Creek wildfires in 2007. I re- member learning about how wildfires, even though this one wasn’t natural, can be really good for the earth because they actually make more way for new life.
In the second piece, which is the bulk of the recital, it focuses on the narrative of creation.
The Point: Could you explain how the music parallels with the theme?
James: In my mind and in the mu- sic I’m drawing the parallel between the creation story and the story in Ezekial (37:1-14) about dry bones coming together and life being breathed into them.
In the music I’m trying to create sounds that literally shake the room, like the dry bones coming together and dead things coming to life. This is both the creation story and the redemption story all happening at the same time.
The Point: How did you come up with the idea for the recital?
James: A lot of praying and thinking and philosophizing about scripture and the things I’ve learned at Point Loma about who God is.
Then using the language I know best [music] to articulate what I don’t even know how to articulate in words.
The Point: What instruments are you featuring in the performance and how did you pick those?
James: I have two people playing keyboard parts (piano and organ), base, two guitar players, two percussion players, four female vocalists, a flute, three saxophones, two violins, a cello, and one person running the computer software program Ableton.
A lot of my instrumentation was based off the fact that I need to create a big sound without using that many people. So you have guitars and keyboards that can play more than one note at a time and then other wind and string instruments to color the sound.
The Point: What are the title’s of each of the movements?
James: The first movement is “Prelude”, the second movement is “I AM.”, the third movement is called “seven.”, and the fourth movement is called “dawn on the ground.” I don’t have a title yet for all four of the movements together.
The Point: How long do you expect it to be?
James: I would say between an hour and a half. Most people sit through a two minute thirty second song but this will be more like sitting through an album.
I think there’s something really profound about just sitting and listening to music.
The Point: Is there one sort of specific thing you’d like people to take away from the performance?
James: No, no there’s not. Art so much is construed as this thing of communication, just getting across your message. The music is based around what I’ve observed.
Musicians would know and say that most of playing music is listening. And me, as a composer, I’m trying to listen to the world around me and the God before me and articulate what I see.
I want people to look at the story as it is because that’s how I see it. The biggest thing is I want people to experience it. I want people to sit there and engage in the story but in no specific way.
photo by Grace Liestman