Duquesne student writes composition for music festival • The Duquesne Duke

Courtesy of Joseph Phillippi | A multi-talented student, Pompa has an equal fascination with writing and music.

by Isabelle Abbott | personal writer

February 3, 2022

Last Saturday afternoon, Duquesne Composition for Media major and horn player Elizabeth Pompa performed her new composition, “Clepsydra,” at the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) festival in the Powers Center Ballroom.

Pompa said she was honored when her teacher and conductor, Dr. James Gourlay, gave her the opportunity to have a concert orchestra perform her piece twice this year: once by post-secondary students, then again by high school students. It was performed by the Duquesne University Symphony Group in November and at the January 29 PMEA concert last weekend.

Gourlay is a performer, teacher, musical director and general manager of the River City Brass of Pittsburgh.

Gourlay said he always enjoys encouraging students to express themselves musically, which is why he motivated Pompa to share his music with him.

“When I looked at Elizabeth’s music,” Gourlay said, “I immediately realized she had tremendous songwriting talent and a unique musical voice.”

The roughly seven-minute, 205-bar piece was written in a week by Pompa in August 2021. Although editing the composition was tedious, she said the hardest part was sitting down. and to “deal with”. .”

Pompa said she had many times in her life where she wanted to give up and even take a break from music, not write for a while and didn’t want to go to college to pursue it, but she felt that it was something she had to do. .

“I guess that’s just what I was born to do,” Pompa said.

Pompa began playing instruments at the age of six and, from grades six through eight, self-taught a variety of different instruments: clarinet, trombone, French horn, and flute. At 19, she now plays horn in the symphony wind orchestra, has written seven complete compositions and has over 100 unfinished future projects.

“Sometimes,” Pompa said, “I come up with ideas that I could really use for a special piece.”

And one of those special pieces was “Clepsydra”.

Although this piece started out untitled and had parts missing until September, Pompa was inspired by the sound of a metronome making the “tick-tock” sound that led her to the idea of ​​a clock. And, since she didn’t want her piece to be simply called “clock”, she came up with the unique title of “Clepsydre”.

“I wanted a more sophisticated word than the clock,” Pompa said.

Clepsydra, or water clock, is an ancient time-measuring device that works by the gradual flow of water into or out of a container, according to Pompa.

This clock was the most accurate use of timekeeping for millennia, making it the perfect name for his piece since the trickling water transmitted the notes throughout the composition. So the writing of the play worked like clockwork for Pompa.

During last week’s PMEA program, musicians from the local high school had a day and a half to learn about music, which Pompa said he did remarkably well. And, after the festival ended, students came to Pompa to praise his work, leaving artist Duquesne sparkling and ecstatic for his next performances.

Gourlay said he was excited to see what Pompa has to offer in his career as well.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing her grow as a songwriter and I can’t wait to program more of her work,” he said.

Pompa’s new composition, “Wolf Hunt,” is five minutes long and will be conducted by Gourlay. On Tuesday, April 12, the composition will be performed in the Power Center Ballroom by the Duquesne University Symphony Band.


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