Staff, faculty compose original music for student productions

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Staff, faculty compose original music for student productions

Although Woo began composing music only a couple of years ago, Janssen began composing original music in high school.
Photos: Hannah Guell

Two BJU faculty and staff members recently composed original pieces for student productions.

David Janssen, a faculty member in the Division of Music, created his piece for the upcoming University Symphony Orchestra production Revolutionary Romantics, which will premier in April.

Janssen teaches freshman theory as well as private music lessons and has been composing since he was in high school.

Janssen said he is a classicist. “I am a lover of classical music, and that is the general genre I am attempting to write in,” he said.

Janssen said he wrote the piece for the production as a kind of pandemic response. The music reflects the wilderness of this world, the ultimate hope of resurrection and the promise of Christ’s rescue from the troubles of this world.

“I would say it is a snapshot of the contemporary state of the kingdom of God,” he said.

Caleb Woo, a BJU health sciences graduate and recruitment specialist for the School of Health Professions, composed the background music for two student productions: a senior film and a senior theatre thesis on Macbeth.

Woo began playing music 10 years ago and has been composing for a couple of years. “I’m hoping to [compose] professionally, which is what I’ve been working towards,” he said.

Woo said both pieces are similar in that they are meant to shape the atmosphere of the film and thesis respectively. While each piece has a theme, the theme isn’t as noticeable since their primary purpose is to be atmospheric, not thematic. The pieces are also more minimalistic so as to not draw attention away from the film and thesis.

Woo met with the director and the sound designer of the theater thesis so they could give him an idea of what they wanted to accomplish with the music.

“The sound designer actually gave me specific instrument sounds to imitate,” he said. “They wanted to use the sound of ancient Celtic instruments.” In order to recreate the sound of those instruments, Woo found ways to use modern instruments to make similar sounds.

Woo appreciates how technology has made composing easier in some ways. When composing, Woo uses Spitfire Audio, a British technology company that produces different instrument sounds, to try out different sounds and combinations of instruments. Eventually, the pieces will be recorded live with actual instruments, but the technology is a helpful tool for Woo to compose with.

Woo also created reference playlists on Spotify to help him find the right aesthetic for his compositions.