DMA Composition Student Ryan Williams Composes Relevant New Work
May 2020 | School of Music
Ryan Williams, DMA composition student, wanted to give band kids a chance to perform during the pandemic. Alumnus Jay Sconyers wanted to be sure his band students at McNeese State University had the opportunity to perform together for the semester. Therein lay a challenge during COVID-19.
Sconyers called Williams on March 12, “the day the dominoes fell, so-to-speak, to ask if a virtual wind ensemble piece would be possible,” says Williams. After they agreed it wasn’t, they discussed the possibilities and ended up going for it. The intent was to provide band students with a band experience during the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected nearly all activities this spring.
“Jay and I hoped to get 8 or 9 universities to join in,” said Williams. “In the end, it was 27 universities and high schools from 17 states plus Trinidad. We expected to end up with 150-200 students participating; once all was said and done, I received more than 800 videos from 757 students.” Cormac Cannon and Jay Jacobs of UofSC bands, chose to join in and be a part of the project. “To have my own Gamecock classmates involved was a real thrill for me,” said Williams.
“The piece itself emerged as my own reactions to everything going on with the COVID-19 outbreak and how our country was reacting to it,” he said. “The first three sections of the piece are very much reactions to the current events (of mid-March): anxious over the unknown, trying to stay prepared for being quarantined, and wishing I could be back to my regular life. The final section offers optimism and hope: we will get through this. Even if things are different, it will pass and we will be okay.”