For generations, the passing of time on the Occidental campus has been marked by the playing of the Westminster chimes, the familiar 200-year-old English melody used in clocks around the world to mark the quarter hours.
Today, thanks to a suggestion from President Jonathan Veitch, the passage of time is now an opportunity to feature the work of three faculty composers, each of whom wrote an original piece of music to be played on the Johnson Student Center carillon bells.
The new compositions "carry an element of surprise, signaling that things are going on here at Occidental, things that are out of the ordinary," Veitch said at the formal unveiling of the pieces during the College's Founders Day observance on April 12, the annual celebration of Occidental's founding in 1887.
"The clock tower is something that unites us, when we hear it on the quarter hour. These new compositions signal a commitment to creative expression, doing something a little bit different with our lives together here on campus," he said.
Each of the faculty composers from the Music Department - Andre Myers, Bruno Louchouarn, and Jennifer Logan - offered a few words on their work, whose debut coincided with the start of the College's annual Spring Arts Festival, a week-long series of art exhibits, literary readings, film screenings, and dance, music and theater performances.
Myers' electronic composition, "The Occidental Quarters," is a work inspired by the Westminster quarters. "I've heard the Westminster quarters all my life, and one of the great things about the them is that the passage of time is the principal means by which the entire musical statement is realized," he said. "It's a piece that consists mostly of space--of our life in what composer John Cage might call ‘in its method of daily operation.'"
|Andre Myers - "The Occidental Quarters":|
Louchouarn recorded the voices of members of the Oxy community speaking words such as "time," "world," "hour," as well as the number one through 12, "and used the words to shape the sound of the bells. Much of the essence of the people here can be found in the spoken word" he said of his piece, "Vox Campanorum" ("The Voice of the Bells.")
|Bruno Louchouarn - "Vox Campanorum":|
"This was a great chance to create music in a space that really does connect us," Logan said of her piano-based work, "Meditation on Time and Timelessness." "I created something gentle, something dreamlike, a fairy tale of sorts, in which we can stop and lose ourselves in a moment of wonder and fantasy."
|Jennifer Logan - "Meditation on Time and Timelessness":|
Veitch has been a major supporter and promoter of arts on campus, commissioning faculty to write original pierces of music to be performed at Commencement and create prominent campus artworks. "Los Angeles is a city of artistic ferment, and Occidental can and should participate in that ferment," he said in his inaugural speech.