Brian Post Composes Original Music for Centennial Celebration

Part of an occasional series on HSU’s 2013-14 centennial celebration.

Professor Brian Post strives to compose music that reaches people. That means it must be interesting and accessible, but no so soothing that it’s simply background noise.

“If someone says my music was ‘nice,’ that’s the kiss of death,” jokes Post, who specializes in composition, music theory and music technology at HSU. “You don’t want someone’s mind to wander to their grocery list while they’re listening to your song.”

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Brian Post.

Post, who most recently composed the score for the Department of Theatre, Film & Dance’s production of Shakuntala, is now composing another original piece: an arrangement for voice and piano to honor HSU’s 2013-14 centennial. The celebration kicks-off Aug. 24 and includes a year of events and activities commemorating the university’s first 100 years.

“My ultimate goal is to draw the listener in, to keep them engaged and remind them what it means to be a part of the HSU community,” Post says of the composition, which will premiere next spring. “Of course if they walk away remembering the music, it is an added bonus.”

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Poetry books by HSU faculty.

Post’s selection will be inspired by the poetry of several HSU faculty members. “I always like to incorporate multiple disciplines into my work because it provides me with more ideas to draw from,” he says.

Last semester, Post enlisted the help of English student Justin Tretten (’12) through a faculty-student research grant from the College of Arts, Humanities and Sciences. In the HSU Library, Tretten found several books of poetry, including works by English faculty members Elma Mccann (1930s), Reginald White (1947-62), Jorie Graham (1980s) and Jim Dodge (1990s).

Over the next few months, Post will scour the books for passages that resonate with him.

“I might take a poem and recite the first few lines over and over, until music notes attach themselves to the words,” he says. “Or the poem might give me a harmonic expression, which I’ll later overlay with a melody,” he explains. “It’s an organic process.”

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Brian Post composes a piano melody in his office.

Post’s composition will premiere April 26 in Fulkerson Recital Hall. Assistant voice professor Elisabeth Harrington will perform the piece with accompaniment by HSU faculty musicians.

“It will be an acknowledgement of the wonderful creativity that has preceded me and that I’m now a part of,” Post says.

The Department of Music will host a series of centennial-themed concerts throughout the year, including a department-wide production 8 p.m., December 13 in Van Duzer Theatre. Music professor Gil Cline is also composing an original piece, which will premiere Nov. 9 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

For more information on the concerts and to stay up to date on all things Centennial, visit humboldt.edu/centennial or like the HSU Centennial Facebook page at facebook.com/hsu100.

For a sample of Post’s work, visit soundcloud.com/brianpost3/shakuntala-11.