Annual ‘Illinois Modern Ensemble’ concert performs contemporary music

By Masaki Sugimoto

After rehearsing for only a month, the School of Music performed its annual “Illinois

Modern Ensemble” concert Thursday, April 14. The concert showcased four

compositions, each composed by a different student.

“Contemporary music is just as abstract as contemporary art,” said Carlos Carrillo,

assistant professor of composition theory, who conducted and directed the ensemble.

“When you approach this form of art, the questions ‘What is this supposed to be?’ ‘What

is going on?’ come in your mind, and that’s what happens when you listen to

contemporary music — you attempt to analyze, decipher and understand the meaning

behind the music.”

One of the concert’s pieces was an inexplicable one— it sounded mysterious, and all

the while felt as if you were walking in an enchanted forest that also happened to be

haunted. “Evening Prayers” was written by student Timothy Sapp, who is currently

pursuing a master’s degree in music composition.

Sapp said the piece seeks to depict a “ritualistic appeal to the divine and the channels,”

where such an appeal would have to go through to actually be heard by its intended


“Evening Prayers” was inspired by Russian liturgical music, and it felt like living in a

certain era was required in order to understand the piece.

Another piece, “Skull’s Gene,” was composed by Zhaoyu Zhang, who is pursuing his

doctorate in music composition.

Zhang, who has written several pieces before, said he still feels the excitement when

seeing his work being performed on stage.

Inspired by a Japanese novel, “Hard­Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World,” the

work attempts to demonstrate the “uncertainty and fear of the protagonist.” The

performance finished with a loud bang at the end, which was an attempt to symbolize

that an indefinite answer exists — both for the piece and in the story.

Withall four pieces possessing very unique meanings, being at the concert was truly

required in order to get a sense of what each piece was attempting to imply. With

varying degrees of all different genres, the “Illinois Modern Ensemble” concert was truly

one of a kind.

Rating: 8.5/10

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