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Greg Scheer

Linn-Mar Press Release

Scheer Scores Linn-Mar Commission

Greg Scheer, the director of Music Ministries at Northwestern College in Orange City, IA, was awarded a $1,000 commission as the winner of the Linn-Mar Orchestra Commission Competition. Scheer will write a new piece for string orchestra that will be premiered by the Linn-Mar Chamber Orchestra in March of 2006.

The commissioning project was the brainchild of Josh Reznicow, the director of Orchestral Activities at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, IA. "I had two goals in mind when first deciding to proceed with this project," Reznicow recounted. "[I wanted] to help support the development of new music from Iowa Composers and give my students the opportunity to be part of a commission from the beginning stages."

In the hopes of instilling his students with a sense of ownership in the commission, Reznicow organized a judging session where 12 students listened to each of the pieces, wrote their comments individually, and then discussed them as a group. "I gave them a few ideas of what to listen for and how to accurately and fairly judge the scores," Reznicow recollected. "They were able to analyze the music with great detail [and] I was surprised with how open their minds were to all the types and styles of compositions they listened to that day." Though the decision was a difficult one, ultimately, the students chose to work with Greg Scheer, an opportunity that Mr. Scheer relishes.

"There's something rich and inspiring about the sound of strings," the composer reflected. "On the one hand, it's a homogenous group, so there is automatic blend and somewhat of a blank slate upon which to draw musical ideas. On the other hand, there is a huge variety of playing techniques and ways of combining the instruments for subtle shifts in tone color." Scheer is also an accomplished string bass player, so writing for strings comes naturally to him.

As a composer, Scheer is fascinated with rhythmic shaping and metamorphosis. "I'm really interested in the polyrhythms that are found in African drumming," he noted. "I tend to shape my music using metamorphosis and juxtaposition rather than developmental formal schemes. My harmonic language tends to be more consonant than many contemporary composers, but I hope not in a predictable or timid way."

As far as his goals for the commission, Scheer hopes to compose a piece that is both challenging and rewarding and is currently doing some research on the school and the city of Marion. "I'm not out to impose my will on [the students], I'm trying to compose a piece that feels like it has sprung up out of their community."

This sounds like a noble goal for any locally commissioned work! Best wishes to Greg and Josh for a successful project.

For additional information on this story, please contact:
Ralph Kendrick
Chair, Iowa Composers Forum
159 Brentwood Dr. NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402
(319) 447-9440, (319) 398-8532
e-mail: chair@iowacomposers.org