Chapman sophomore Steven Gudino (double-major B.M. Guitar Performance and Music Composition) began playing guitar at the tender age of nine, around the time most young students are introduced to instrumental music at school. By his senior year in high school, he was still at it with his instrument and began composing his own songs, thanks to an orchestration class offered by his school.
During a short stint at community college Gudino was introduced to the art of classical music composition and, combined with the mentoring of his instructor, his passion for music took off in a decidedly focused trajectory.
“I find the entire process of music composition to be very rewarding,” Gudino said. “Hearing what other musicians bring to my music, how they react and interpret it, is very exciting.”
Gudino wrote a new piece as part of his freshman-year coursework for the MUS 277 Music Composition class led by Chapman Associate Professor Vera Ivanova in the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. His song The Blonde Moon Whispers is composed for flute, alto saxophone, and piano, and was performed in class as a reading that semester by Chapman guest artists Ensemble Inverspace.
“The piece is performed in three sections. The first, called ‘Reflections of the Artificial Light,’ tries to convey a busy city scene at night. There is a lot of interplay within the music, and the sound is more conversational. The second section, ‘The Blonde Moon Whispers,’ is more serene and intimate, representing a nighttime landscape. Its texture is thin with a whispering tone. The last section, ‘Les étoiles qui rient,’ serves a mix of the first two motifs with even more interplay and conversation between all three instruments, creating a dynamic climax. Its title translates to ‘the stars that laugh’ and is a paraphrase of a quote from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.”
—The Blonde Moon Whispers by Steven Gudino
Steven decided to submit The Blonde Moon Whispers for consideration, at the urging of Ivanova, to the Boston New Music Initiative’s (BNMI) 3rd Annual Young Composer Competition for 2017. By August that year he learned he had won first place in the competition and was invited to attend rehearsals, sound check, and a public performance of his song at BNMI’s “Five’s a Crowd” performance with special guest patchtax, on January 27, 2018, at The Record Company in Boston, MA.
“I felt honored and excited to win the competition,” Gudino enthused. “The Boston trip with my family was a fun and amazing experience with a lot of great music by talented composers, and it was very humbling to hear my work performed by such great musicians.”
To help offset his travel expenses, Gudino applied to both the Conservatory and Chapman University’s Student Government Association for grants, which were readily approved.
The Boston trip also featured a pre-concert performance panel of four, including Gudino, who discussed their artistic process of composing. “Sitting on the panel was good practice for me to be in a professional setting in the role of composer and having my work performed,” Steve said. “The concert was a great experience because of the things the musicians did and the way they interpreted my music. It was a pleasant surprise.”
Gudino also studies guitar under Associate Professor Jeff Cogan and performs not only in the Conservatory’s Guitar Ensemble led by Cogan, but also the New Music Ensemble led by Professor Sean Heim and the Big Band & Jazz Combo led by Albert Alva. In the rest of his “spare” time at Chapman, he has also written three film scores, with another on the way, for student projects in Chapman’s Dodge College of Film & Media Arts. This summer he will use part of his grant money to travel to Vienna, Austria, to attend the city’s Summer Music Festival. To hear more of Steven’s music visit his YouTube channel.