Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student


Winner of composition competition to premiere work ‘Through Doorways Between Dreams’

Graduate student Christopher Renk, winner of the Musical Arts Youth Orchestra Composition Competition, will see his piece “Through Doorways Between Dreams” performed publicly this Sunday. Ninety musicians ages 8 to 18 from around the world will play Renk’s piece at the IU Auditorium as part of the International Youth Orchestra Festival.

Renk said he began composing the piece two years ago, but set it aside until he heard about the competition.

“The piece started as a fragment of music,” Renk said. “It had an ethereal, subtle character like dream imagery.”

He began by playing the fragment on the piano and thinking about the instrumentation and the mood he wanted to evoke, he said.

“I’m trying to get at certain mystical, ethereal, dark and sardonic heroic feelings,” Renk said.

Once he got those feelings written into the orchestral parts, he submitted the piece to the competition. The orchestra played through the works of four finalists before finally selecting Renk’s piece.

“It has all the things we were looking for,” said Don Freund, professor of music composition at the Jacobs School of Music. “It’s a very attractive, expressive piece. It has a lot of interesting orchestral colors and a rhythm that gets into your system as you listen to it.”

Freund added that Renk knew what kinds of sounds fit well for each instrument and how to make the piece together as a single organism.

“It has an engaging accompaniment,” Freund said. “There’s a flow to it, the way all the voices are doing something interesting. It’s engaging to the listener.”

Jose Valencia, the music director of the competition, echoed similar sentiments.

“Chris Renk’s piece has this driving motor that the kids dig,” he said. “It goes through instrumental parts and is married with percussion. I think it’s more emblematic of our times.”

The process of rehearsing “Through Doorways Between Dreams” was exciting for the orchestra as well, Valencia said.

“The musicians liked it a lot,” he said. “It’s a good thing to have people exposed to new music that’s written right now, by people who are alive right now.”

Renk attended some of the rehearsals of the piece and was on hand to answer questions.

Valencia said Renk gets to have an immediate impact on what Renk is hearing and what he was hearing in his head when he wrote the new piece.

Renk said he is impressed with the response of the orchestra.

“This is serious music,” he said. “It would be challenging for a lot of groups. This orchestra is wonderful. The orchestra students are very serious and talented.”

The concert at 4 p.m. Sunday is just one part of the International Youth Orchestra Festival this week, which also includes masterclasses, workshops and rehearsals, said Julia Copeland, executive director of the competition.

“All week we have guests here, young musicians,” she said. “It’s a very intense week for us.”

Get stories like this in your inbox