Music professor wins prestigious commission for original work

September 05, 2012

Jeff HerriottConcert-goers at UW-Whitewater will be treated to an unusual evening of music next fall at the premiere performance of a piece composed by Jeff Herriott, an associate professor of music.

"Most people would consider it experimental.  They'll hear sounds they weren't expecting, shapes they weren't expecting," Herriott said.

He was awarded a commission to create a new evening-length work from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University.  He was among six composers nationwide who received general commissions.

He will compose the work for the ensemble Due East, with Erin Lesser on flutes and Greg Beyer on percussion, along with a percussion ensemble and electronics.

Herriott is coordinator of the Media Arts and Game Development program at UW-Whitewater and a talented composer and performer of music that uses electronic technology.  He performs as part of Sonict Duo with Matt Sintchak, also an associate professor of music at UW-Whitewater, on saxophone.

Herriott's new composition will be loosely based on exploring sounds of the natural world, such as the sounds of rocks, wind, dirt and sand.

The composition is tentatively titled "Stone and Sand," but that's likely to change. "Once I start writing a piece, it goes kind of where it goes," he said. "You find something exciting and do more with that."

This composition will be the longest he's ever written, lasting an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. He expects it will consist of many movements, to provide contrast and balance within a single work.

"The music I write is typically a bit different from other people's.  It's typically slow and pulseless, without a beat that's discernible," Herriott said.

No date has been set for the fall 2013 UW-Whitewater premiere. The performance is expected to travel to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and elsewhere, allowing local percussionists to participate.

Herriott, whose UW-Whitewater courses include music composition and a class on sound and image, said the commission will reinforce his teaching by giving students an opportunity to see a model of what's possible.

"This is a big project," he said. "They're going to see this get put together."


Sara Kuhl

Jeff Angileri