Edgewood band collaborates with composer Print
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, May. 26, 2016 -- 12:00 AM
Edgewood HS Band
Composer Jack Stamp talks with members of the Edgewood High School Band as they rehearse "Snapshots" -- a piece collaboratively written by Stamp and the band. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

MADISON -- The Edgewood High School Band recently got to perform a piece of music very personal to them.

At the school's band concert on May 4, one of the performed selections was called "Snapshots" -- which was a commissioned work composed by Dr. Jack Stamp, with a large amount of input from the Edgewood band members.

Stamp is currently adjunct professor of music at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where he teaches conducting.

Edgewood Band Director Carrie Backman had met Stamp several years ago at a workshop in Minnesota and stayed in touch with him.

She wanted him to work with her students as his career took him eventually to Wisconsin.

Beginning the project

Stamp met with the Edgewood Band members while he was in Madison for the Wisconsin Music Educators Association Conference.

He had a question and answer session with the students to brainstorm ideas about what would make up the piece of music he would compose for them, or as Stamp put it, a "collaborative project."

"The students here were kind of instrumental and important in the formulation of the piece," said Stamp. "They gave me the source material by which to write the piece."

The "source material" was the sounds of everyday life at the school.

These included the school's "Crusader's Hymm," as well as sayings Edgewood teachers are known for, put to music.

"It's little snapshots or vignettes of the school," said Stamp.

The challenge was to take the catchphrases and quirks, familiar only to the students and teachers, and turn them into music.

One of these was a staff member's often said comment to students, "Not here, not now, not ever."

Over the next few months, Stamp would meet with the students via online video meetings and send snippets of the work-in-progress back and forth with them.

While Stamp was the composer of "Snapshots," the students had a hand in its form, structure, and instrumentation -- tailored to that of the current band.

Putting it all together

As the piece neared completion, Stamp worked with the students for three days, prior to its debut at the concert.

"It's really unique," said junior bassoonist John Fulton.

"[Just] getting the ideas across and having this collaborative effort among the musicians to create this piece -- [it's been] a unique process."

He said he was looking forward to seeing the teachers' reactions when and if they get the references to themselves in the song.

Freshman trumpet player Chris Imholte said the experience had "definitely been positive . . . It's a lot of building and culminating our hard work to lead up to a great performance."

Junior trumpet player Colin Lancaster added, "It's been really interesting to see [Stamp's] insight into the music because he knows how he wants it to sound and he gets us to play it that way instead of us trying to figure out how it sounds."

As Stamp rehearsed the piece with the band, he helped them finalize it and shape it into a real piece of music.

"I can write the piece," said Stamp, "but that's not music, that's code for a piece and then they have to decode it in real time . . . the piece hasn't become a piece of music until they set it in motion."

Performing the piece

At the concert, prior to the full piece being performed, Stamp and the band performed some of the individual parts of the song based on the teachers' sayings.

The full piece was received positively by the Edgewood teachers and everyone in attendance.

"That's what education is about really," said Stamp. "It's the interaction of human beings with each other, creating music, and that's the most fun."


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