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Student composer creates new band work

By Kyle Schut '13
August 20, 2012

Jesse Brault '13 (right) worked closely with St. Olaf Band Conductor and Professor of Music Timothy Mahr '78 (left) this summer to compose a new piece for wind ensemble.

In order to fully appreciate what Jesse Brault '13 did with his summer, you'll need to attend a St. Olaf Band concert this spring.

That's when the ensemble will premier the composition that Brault has spent the last few months putting together.

As part of St. Olaf College's Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program, Brault worked closely with St. Olaf Band Conductor and Professor of Music Timothy Mahr '78 to compose a new piece for wind ensemble. The band will perform the resulting work, titled Illuminatio, in March and April.

"As is the case with all of the other CURI projects, this experience presents an opportunity for one of our many talented St. Olaf students to explore fully an aspect of investigation — in this case, expression as a composer," Mahr says.

Brault describes the composition as being centered around a singular concept of becoming aware and enlightened. The piece, written in response to the college's upcoming academic year theme, "Innovation in the Liberal Arts," comes from the idea that enlightenment can be reached through a multidisciplinary approach to learning and thinking.

"The study of diverse lines of thought not only gives one many different pieces of knowledge, but it heightens one's perception of the world through experiencing many different perspectives of other human beings," says Brault. "The innovation is thus a change of the way one thinks about the process of learning in the liberal arts. Illuminatio seeks to musically capture this process of becoming aware."

Brault's work continues a long-standing St. Olaf tradition of student composers coming up with advanced musical literature. Alumni such as Egemen Kesikli '12, Eric Choate '12, Matthew Peterson '06, and Abbie Betinis '01 have seen their works performed by a wide array of professional musicians and ensembles.

"Each student composer brings a fresh perspective to making an artistic statement about the world around him or her," says Mahr. "There's a long track record around here for students creating meaningful works, and I am confident this will continue."

After graduating from St. Olaf, Brault plans to pursue a Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or