2014. 02. 14
Student composer Sean Dahlman works long hours bringing his music to life
By Stephen Anderson
At 2 a.m., the window of room 204 in the Langroise Center for Performing and Fine Arts is blocked by cardboard. It’s been taped up from the inside as an emphatic “Do not disturb” sign, although no one but security is around to disturb at this time of night. From behind the door, muted by an inch of wood, comes a stark but melodious sound. It rises from a slightly-out-of-tune Chickering piano used in the daytime for classroom demonstrations, and once a week by a church group for hymns.
The piano is school property, and the room is normally locked. College of Idaho student Sean Dahlman, however, has a key. Tonight, like most nights, the room has become his “office,” and he will work though morning and several pots of coffee if need be. He plays a sequence, repeats it, repeats it again, and then moves forward with sweeping whole tone bravado, interspersing memorable riffs from Satie or Debussy. “I just play,” he says. “And I play the same thing for a long time.”
The smell of Folgers mingles with the sound of French Impressionism. If things go well, perhaps at daylight Sean will emerge with a composition. These are not study habits most college students are familiar with. Even most music composition students work during the day and sleep at night, but Sean is among those artists for whom insomnia is essential to the craft. Not that his composing habits are strictly nocturnal.
“If I’m walking, if I’m in class, I will see a motive or an idea and I’ll quickly write it down,” Sean says. “My biology notebook has more ledger lines than actual biology notes.”
Before college, Sean’s home was not the green couch on the second floor of Langroise but illustrious Sun Valley, Idaho, famous outpost of movie stars and Ernest Hemmingway. Back then, he played bass guitar for the rock band, “Toast;” needless to say, more than a musical stone’s throw from Satie. But after high school, Sean applied for a grant from The Sun Valley Center for the Arts, got it, and came to the C of I. Now in his senior year, Sean has emerged as one of the few students at the College devoted almost entirely to writing music.
What sets Sean apart from other student composers is not when he writes, but how—sitting at the piano rather than at a computer. Music notation software such as the program Finale has become the medium of choice for most students composing at the college level. But Dahlman, a traditionalist, believes using Finale involves an unacceptable degree of disconnect between the composer and his music.
“When I’m writing music on paper, that’s my handwriting, those are my signatures, those are my colors, those are my notes,” he said. “And when I write on a computer, I feel like that’s almost lost.”
Even Sean admits that for the transposition process, he can’t escape using Finale. But for him, the balance of the work has to fall on the side of piano. Often, he sits down and “jams,” playing long, meandering, sometimes hypnotically circular pieces that can go on almost indefinitely.
“For me, I’m using the piano to just find my music,” he said. “It’s already there, it’s like I’m digging, I’m looking and I don’t know what I’m going to find… there’s no destination. It goes where it goes, I don’t question it.”
Dahlman enjoyed a personal success in January 2014 when his original composition was performed to accompany a screening of the film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horrors at the Boise Art Museum. The original score by Hans Erdmann was lost on the only surviving copy of Nosferatu, and Sean’s piece was played in its stead for the Idaho Horror Film Festival event at BAM.
The public recognition is nice, but Sean has no intention of letting up. He’ll spend countless long days and late nights working on his next composition, working on his honor’s thesis, and preparing for an ambitious two senior recitals before graduating this spring.
C of I Food Bank helps local families in need
Every day in Simplot Dining Hall, College of Idaho students are offered an impressive and diverse spread of food – and there almost always is extra.
Rather than letting the excess food go to waste, the College’s Food Bank Club and food service provider Bon Appétit are making sure the extras serve a more beneficial purpose.
Tuesdays and Thursdays while classes are in session, C of I sophomores Hannah Dixon and Kristin Guerrero meet in Simplot at 7:40 p.m. As Food Bank co-leaders, Dixon and Guerrero package meals for five local families with the help of other student volunteers. Once the bins are filled with complete meals, the food is loaded into one of the College’s vans, which the students use to make personal deliveries to each family’s home.
Dixon and Guerrero were Food Bank Club members last year, but they have formed an even stronger bond with the families they serve this year. The families are happy and grateful to see C of I students at their homes every week, and the families make sure to have their bins washed and ready to return at the next visit.
“It’s such a good idea,” said campus ministries coordinator Cindi Duft, the Food Bank’s staff advisor. “We’re not wasting food and we’re making connections with the community by giving it to people who want and need it.”
Duft checks in with Dixon and Guerrero regularly, but she gives them the freedom to lead and organize the club’s weekly activities. She considers it another example of one of the C of I’s signature strengths – giving students opportunities to step up and do the things they want to do while being there to offer support if and when it is needed.
The C of I Food Bank is open to all students. Faculty, staff and alumni also are welcome to volunteer. Dixon and Guerrero are always looking for new volunteers, and they encourage other C of I clubs and community groups to come and give an evening of their time. For more information, please email [email protected] or [email protected].
Howling Yotes successful at winter tournaments
The College of Idaho’s speech and debate team has a new coach and a host of new faces this year, but the Howling Yotes continue to hum along as one of the top collegiate programs in the Pacific Northwest.
Most recently, the Howling Yotes completed a busy winter term, competing at the Mile High Swing tournaments at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City as well as the Scheller Invitational at Pacific University in Portland, Ore.
“I’m ecstatic about the way the team is coming together,” first-year C of I speech and debate director Kyle Cheesewright said. “We have a lot of young folks who are working really hard at getting acclimated to college-level forensics. They are doing a great job, and I think we are going to perform and excel in some pretty incredible ways over the next couple of years.”
At the Mile High Swing competition, the Howling Yotes were led by the parliamentary debate team of freshman Logan Dennis and sophomore Marabie Barck, who made it to the playoff debates and finished 33rd out of 98 teams while facing some of the toughest competition in the nation.
The C of I team racked up 11 individual awards at the Scheller Invitational. Freshmen Reanna Vanacore and Rachel Blach took first place as a junior duo interpretation team, junior Madai Montes finished third in program oral interpretation, senior Ana Sanchez and Blach placed fourth in junior impromptu speaking and junior dramatic interpretation, and sophomores Dalton Montgomery and Matthew Vraspir took sixth in open dramatic interpretation and open extemporaneous speaking. Juniors Ryan Mulvaney and Alixx Arons earned first and second speaker awards, respectively, in junior parliamentary debate, while Vraspir placed sixth and Sanchez ninth in individual public debate.
The Howling Yotes will take part in three more competitions this spring, beginning with a regional competition Feb. 21-23 at Oregon State University in Corvallis. The season concludes March 20-23 with a national competition at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
For more information about speech and debate at The College of Idaho – including information on how to join the Howling Yotes – please contact Cheesewright at [email protected].
C of I well-represented at women in physics conference
A group of College of Idaho students led by Professor Katie Devine recently attended the Rocky Mountain section meeting of the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in Salt Lake City. The conference included colleges and universities from throughout the Intermountain West – including the nearby University of Utah and BYU – but the C of I had the largest student group of any school in attendance with nine participants.
Chelsea Walther, Zamokuhle Motsa, Tierra Candelaria, Tasha Sitz, Cassiemarie Low, Pragna Naidoo, Shelby Elkins, Angelica Price and Johanna Mori represented the C of I at the conference. The students had opportunities to tour research labs, attend guest lectures by professional female physicists and participate in a student research poster session as well as career development workshops.
“It was incredibly exciting to see our students interact with a group of peers and professional physicists who exposed students to a range of career possibilities,” Devine said. “As a woman in physics, my favorite part of the conference was seeing a whole room of female physics students and professionals together, encouraging and supporting each other.”
Elkins, a junior math-physics major, said the conference was an enjoyable and meaningful learning experience for the C of I group.
“I absolutely loved the conference, especially with this particular group of C of I women,” Elkins said. “It worked in all the ways it was meant to – as a community-building opportunity, a place to network and speak with peers and mentors, and to spread knowledge and advice about being a woman in physics – and also doubled as a taste of what life is like at a larger school. It was fun to be on a bigger campus, but it really made us appreciate the personality and size of our own College.”
Candelaria, also a junior majoring in math-physics, had the opportunity to present her own physics research – conducted last summer in collaboration with Devine – for the first time at the conference.
“It was a great experience,” Candelaria said. “It was a welcoming environment and we learned about some cutting-edge research being conducted right now. I am really glad I went and had the opportunity to participate.”
To learn more about the conference, please visit http://cuwip.utah.edu/index.html.
The College of Idaho has a new fight song! Join us Feb. 22 as we unveil the new song between the men’s and women’s basketball games versus Northwest University (approximately 7 p.m.) inside J.A. Albertson Activities Center. Music and lyrics will be provided so that all fans can sing along. Go Yotes!!!
The College of Idaho’s PEAK Curriculum was in the news again this week, this time in a feature article by Kelcie Moseley of the Idaho Press-Tribune.
The College of Idaho’s 2013 annual report is now available to read online at www.collegeofidaho.edu/annualreport. The report, presented in a magazine-style format, highlights student, faculty and alumni accomplishments as well as the College’s revenues, expenses, giving and initiatives in development, marketing and alumni relations.
Coach Scott Garson and the resurgent C of I men’s basketball team recently were featured in a column by Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman. The article focuses on Garson’s ability to connect with players, fans, alumni and the Caldwell community while modeling his coaching after UCLA legend John Wooden.
C of I basketball players Antonio Garrett and Demetrius Perkins recently were featured in an article by Bruce Mason of the Idaho Press-Tribune. Click here to read about their incredible journey from the rough streets of Southern California to Caldwell, where they are key contributors for the No. 6 Coyotes. Teammate and tough guy Sydney Donaldson, who hails from England and plays for the C of I soccer team, also was featured by the IPT.
C of I alumnus Ray Marshall ’75 has joined the San Francisco office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as a partner in the law firm’s White Collar and Investigations and Business Trials Team. Marshall, a past president of the State Bar of California and the San Francisco Bar Association, majored in history and American studies at the C of I, where he graduated summa cum laude before going on to earn his law degree from Harvard Law School.
C of I English professor Diane Raptosh recently got some good press for her latest book, American Amnesiac, on the website New Pages. Click here to read the review by Andrea Dulberger, who calls Raptosh’s work “one of the most strikingly alive poetry books I have read in recent years.”
For the second time in three years, The College of Idaho’s Quest magazine has been recognized for excellence by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The article “Force of Nature,” written by Quest editor Jordan Rodriguez, won the bronze award in the “Individual Feature Articles” writing category during the CASE District VIII Conference this week in Vancouver, B.C. Click here to read the winning article, which profiles adventurous C of I alumna Dorothy Custer ’33.
Congratulations to C of I student-athlete Austin Basterrechea, who recently was named the national NAIA Men's Track & Field Athlete of the Week. Basterrechea, a senior from Gooding, was honored after winning the heptathlon at the Ed Jacoby Invitational, where he established three C of I records and recorded the top score in the NAIA this season.
It has been a busy two weeks for the C of I football program. On Jan. 31, Coach Mike Moroski announced the hiring of defensive coordinator Chris Jewell, who joins Moroski’s staff alongside offensive coordinator Tim Keane and special teams coordinator Chris Petrilli. The Coyotes also announced the signing of five transfer student-athletes, including highly-touted quarterback Teejay Gordon. Keep up on all the latest football news at www.yoteathletics.com.
The College of Idaho’s IT department recently was featured on the website of tech company Nimble Storage. C of I systems administrator Alan Price ’10 is quoted in the article, which explains how the College used Nimble Storage to improve its tech applications and user experience.
New C of I soccer recruits Ellie Packham (Canyon Ridge High, Twin Falls) and Riley Smith (Capital High, Helena, Mont.) recently were featured in their hometown newspapers, the Twin Falls Times-News and the Helena Independent Record. Read more about the C of I recruiting classes in all sports at www.yoteathletics.com.
The C of I is currently featured on the Tomorrow’s Tuition Today webpage, a site promoting 529 savings plans for private colleges. Click here to check it out!
C of I alumnus Sam Elias ’04 will lead a climbing adventure to California’s Mount Shasta this summer as part of a Backpacker Magazine contest to raise money for Big City Mountaineers, a nonprofit organization that introduces urban teens to the outdoors. Elias, a professional rock climbing athlete for The North Face, climbed Mount Everest in 2012 as part of a National Geographic expedition. He keeps an active blog chronicling his climbing adventures at www.bookofsamuel.com.
C of I Vice President for Student Affairs Paul Bennion has been accepted into the 2014-2015 Executive Leadership Academy program cosponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and American Academic Leadership Institute. Bennion, nominated by C of I President Marv Henberg, is one of 40 individuals selected to participate in two national seminars, readings, webinars, individualized experiential activities and structured mentorship experiences through the program.