This Tuesday, May 9th, the young and promising eclectic composer, Christopher Wiley, showcased his Senior Composition Recital at Brigham Young University – Hawaii. Twenty-four years old and from Bend, Oregon, Chris has evolved into a passionate and innovative musician who delivers refreshing originality. His concert showcased “a wide variety of original music…ranging in genres and styles from jazz, to experimental voice, to film scores, to Brazilian batucada, and more” (event bio). Christopher’s compositions, performed by BYU-Hawaii students and faculty of the Music Department, create such a distinct palette that the only correlation between the songs is a quickly evident and unmistakable atmosphere of intellectual reflection–“what did all these different sounds and emotions mean?” Clearly an appropriate name, “Food for Thought” riveted its audience through an introspective journey of feelings–a congratulatory feat for Chris who desires to advance his career towards story-telling and emotional film-scoring.
During the recital, the composition “Flagpoles” was able to be continuously repetitive while entertaining our minds as listeners. Presented like a song from the brain’s point of view, the stream of consciousness displayed from a daily routine speaks to our own mind in an intellectual rut.
A jazzy favorite, “Rollin’ with the Punches” was a great opening tune whose musky yet light-hearted disposition resembles the underground Parisian scene of Funny Face (1957) with Audrey Hepburn’s interpretive dance moves, her famous all-black, and serious sweater outfit, and philosophical comrades hanging in the colorful smoky room.
Furthermore, as a highlight of the show, “Phones” was a brilliant modern twist of technology and choral performance where numerous singers “plugged” themselves into their phones and followed video segments made by Chris. Separated by headphones and their absorption with technology, the singers/users were united only by their common seclusion, even though they all stood, singing next to one another–an obvious call to today’s youth and the “sounds” they all make. The extreme staged red lighting and abstract vocal sounds provide “Phones” with its modern-dystopia touch. Finally, a composition that satisfies the hunger for an explanation of our freakish time.
Lastly, Christopher’s piece “Angel” is dedicated to his cousin, Michelle, who passed at a young age from battling leukemia. This heartfelt song was a joyful experience of life. A playful and light-hearted theme begins and the listener can imagine straight away the simple happiness of the life of a young girl. The theme dips into different genres at times and the audience can feel Michelle growing and living new exciting experiences. Then, a trumpet takes the song into a powerful and strong development like an emotional outburst of not sadness or joy, but of both–of life–and increases in intensity until the recapitulation. Like a triumphant heralding, Michelle’s theme reappears with a compilation of new sounds and layers that elevate the listener’s heart into knowing the angel is here. A sweet and rich experience, “Angel” was like getting to know a person through music. Chris’s family will be running a marathon this year to celebrate 10 years of remembering Michelle as an angel.
Although the recital premiered several other compositions, Wiley’s show finished with a standing ovation that in itself literally formed into musical clapping.
“In the Fall, Christopher and his wife, Elizabeth, will start a new chapter in their lives by moving to Dublin, Ireland, where Christopher will be pursuing an MA in Scoring for Film and Visual Media from Pulse College” (program bio).
*A recording of “Food for Thought” Senior Music Composition Recital 2017 will soon be available. Come back to get the link!*
You can contact Christopher Wiley via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chrisjwiley32