March makes a
personal mixture of
mnusic and poetry
by Melissa Rose Bernardo
I asked composer Kevin March when he knew he wanted to be a composer. He
laughed, "Gosh -that's like asking 'When did you start breathing!"'For March,
composition and music are very personal things. Tonight, two of his song cycles
will be performed at the School of Music.
March received his Bachelor's in music education from Taylor University in
Fort Wayne. After trying his hand at teaching, he decided that he wanted to
compose. He began his graduate composition studies at Ball State University, and
transferred to the University because of the quality of our composition program.
The cycles being performed this evening are combinations of the two oldest
forms of expression - music and poetry. March wrote the pieces for the senior
recitals of two of his friends.
The first song cycle, "Winter," consists of four movements, involving tenor,
piano, french horn and flute. It is based on poetry written by March's former
roommate, and chronicles a "spiritual experience one winter," March said. "(My
roommate) had been going through some pretty rough times with personal
struggles. Therefore, it's very personal, almost streams-of-consciousness." The
poetry attracted March because of the parallels between winter and life. The four
novements, March explained, show "how winter can manifest itself in a lot of
The second song cycle is a piece in eight movements, "Thoughts on Life and
Death,"based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Again, March was attracted by
the personal nature ofherpoetry. "Even though (Dickinson) highly valued life and
the experience that life brings, she didn't fear death; rather, she viewed it as a sort
of natural progression," March explained. Since Dickinson is often viewed as a
morbid poet, March was quick to classify the mood of the piece as "somber, but
The cycles being performed this evening are
iombinations of the two oldest forms of
expression - music and poetry. March wrote the
pieces for the senior recitals of two of his friends.
not morbid. The cycle is written for soprano, organ and piano; it naturally includes
Dickinson's famous "Because I could not stop for death."
When asked about composers who influenced him, March named Claude
Debussy and Gustav Mahler. "If I could listen to one piece for the rest of my life,
it would probably be (Debussy's) 'The Sunken Cathedral,"' he said.
Debussy and Mahler's"expressivity"intrigued March."Theirmusicis overtly
expressive and overtly emotional, quite sentimental and very personal," March
said. For those of you who are familiar with (or unfamiliar with) Mahler, heisquite
prone to emotional outbursts. That aspect of Maher's music seemed to enthrall
March, however. "His music is almost out of control, but never without sub-
stance," March explained.
March emphasized the originality of his own music: "Even though my music
sounds nothing like Debussy or Mahler, I seek to convey those personal feelings
- to sort of wear my heart on my sleeve." March added, "They encouraged me
UIf there are other composers who influenced his music, it would be 20th-
century American composers Michael Torke and Stephen Paulus. March referred
to their rhythmic vitality. "Although these two song cycles were not influenced by
those composers - in fact I hadn't even heard of them at the time I wrote them
- they have kind of influenced me with respect to how I treat my music
Throughout our conversation, March discovered that talking about his own
music was noteasy. "It'slike going to an artmuseum, seeing apainting and coming
home and trying to tell your parents what it looked like," he said. March did not
discuss what his song cycles sounded like. March clarified, "There's a time and
place to talk about music, and a time and place to hear it."
1VQ SONG CYCLES BY KEVIN MARCH will be performed tonight at 7p.m..
ii Afason Organ Studio in the School of Music. Admission is free.
Tracy Torme, the politically correct hero and screenwriter of the current box office hit "Fire in the Sky," woos with his velvet fog voice.
Torme breaks rules to wnrite 'Frwe
Son offamous crooner Mel is a talented television and screenwriter in his own right
by Alison Levy
When the subject of Tracy Torme arises, so do
two questions: who is she and is she related to Mel?
Well, she is a he (not in "'The Crying Game" sense),
but not just any he. Torme is a talented screenwriter
who uses the great voice he inherited from his
famous father to do phone interviews and woohard-
to-understand Californian women into his blue-
During most of our "minus" (re: before we were
born) years, the 33 year-old Torme was living in
Southern California before heading off to the insid-
ers' film school, USC, which he has since trashed in
the USC newspaper "The Daily Trojan."If they ask
him for money, Torme claims he'll say no and walk
out. Go Tracy. After two years, he transferred to
Loyola Marymount. Then, eight units shy of gradu-
ation, he headed to Toronto where he wrote for
SCTV. From there, Torme moved on to SNL in the
Eddie Murphy-Joe Piscopo days where he made
short films and penned memorable sketches like
"'The Interesting Four," which was about superhe-
roes with totally worthless powers. Weather Girl
could raise or lower the temperature six degrees, and
Seiko was a man who could see six seconds into the
A science-fiction hound who credits "The Outer
Limits," as his all-time favorite television show and
is quoted in a book about Trekkie guru Gene
Roddenberry, Torme moved on to become a writer
for "Star Trek: The Next Generation." His second
episode, "The Big Goodbye," earned him a presti-
gious Peabody award which allowed him the free-
dom to work on other projects as well as the series.
As a trivia note, check out the "Manhunt" episode,
which Torme felt was bad enough to warrant a
pseudonym. He's listed as Keith Mills.
For aspiring screenwriters, Torme has mixed
feelings about formula-meister Syd Field's how-to-
books. He says, "when people don't know anything
about writing a screenplay then it's good for them to
go out and read books like that. (But) I think that
people can get too caught up in theory and the theory
starts to become more important than the work."
Pausing, Torme adds, "I believe that ... certain rules
are made to be broken, so I think people should be
careful about being too anal-retentive about so-
called screenwriting rules."
Torme tried to break those rules with "Fire In The
Sky." He describes the film as "not a wall-to-wall
science fiction, UFO, special effects movie," but
much more of a personal story which will "blow
your mind" when you realize it's all true. Torme has
never seen a UFO in person, but he does believe a
small number of the reported cases are very real.
At parties, Tracy is frequently
and eagerly asked by hoards of
women if he makes movies for
HBO. Because of his new
western, he truthfully answers,
"Yes, yes, I do," which, not
surprisingly, stops the crowd..
Also working on "Fire in the Sky" are Robert
Patrick ("T2") and D.B. Sweeney ("The Cutting
Edge"). Torme would like to work again with Patrick
on either a Western being developed for HBO en-
titled "Storm Riders" or the adaptation of Richard
Mathison's book "I Am Legend" that he's doing for
Warner Brothers. At parties, Torme is frequently and
eagerly asked by hoards of women if he makes
movies for HBO. Because of his new western, he
truthfully answers, "Yes, yes, I do," which, not
surprisingly, stops the crowd.
Torme describes "Storm Riders" as "a western
with a bizarre twist." However, the twist remains a
highly-guarded secret, which cannot be revealed
(especially because I forgot to ask what it was). Afan
of "Sunset Boulevard," he would like to remake the
Bogart classic, "In a Lonely Place," which he also
lists as one of his favorite movies. Plus, he's devel-
oping a movie, with his hero, Bob Dylan, about
legendary drummer, Buddy Rich.
Eventually, Torme would like to work with ac-
tors like Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, Joe
Mantegna and not Sharon Stone. What a guy.
In his small amount of spare time, besides renting
convertibles and thehard-to-understand-woman thing
(which became a strong theme - and probably the
only theme - of the interview), Torme plays fast-
pitch softball, something he started after ending his
college baseball career. And although he's got a
black leather jacket and is "ashamed to admit" that
his car has leather seats, Torme belongs to several
animal rights groups and is the proud owner of
several cats and a dog. While he's not a jazz fan
(don't tell Dad!), Torme is into Neil Young, The
Beatles, and more recent bands such as The
Lemonheads, The Wonder Stuff, The Spin Doctors,
and especially those literate rockers from Scotland,
Reading is also a big hobby for Torme. His
favorites includeTom Wolfe, D.H. Lawrence, andF.
Scott Fitzgerald, but he doesn't relate personally to
Jay Gatsby because he describes himself as an anti-
yupster whose hair is too long (though not long
enough tobraid, he assured).Besides, "TengerIs The
Night"ismorehis style. While Gatsby isn'tonhislist
of idols, PC heroes such as Dad, John Lennon, and
As for some trivial but nonetheless entertaining
information, Torme is a classic Aries, whom no one
has ever accused of being a "shrinking violet," his
Dad and Harry Anderson ("Night Court") are best
buddies, his favorite city is San Francisco, his Mom
lives in Allison, Louisiana, he has yet to get a tattoo
and he thinks the Star Trek spin-off "Deep Space
Nine" is dull and boring. But Torme's very amusing,
and verypoite whenhe'sasked point-blank, "Wanna
give me a job?" by graduating college students.
We never did get the "Do you smoke pot?"
question answered, but how can you not love a guy
who says he's going to rush out and buy Blue
Razzberry Blow Pops when informed they turn your
tongue and teeth blue? His only question is, "How do
you get the blue off your tongue?" Oh, Tracy.
The Michiganensian Yearbook is
looking for a business manager
for the 1993-94 school year.
Responsibilities include budget-
ing, promotions, distribution, and
other duties. Applications are due
by March 22nd. If you have any
questions or would like an appli-
cation, stop by the Student Publi-
cations Building-420 Maynard St.,
or call 764-9425 and ask for Randy.
to come only when you least expect it.
operas love is discovered in some very
In these comical
Q he Office of Minority Affairs
is now accepting applications
for Student Leader positions for the
Wade H. McCree, Jr. Incentive Scholars
Student Leaders work with a diverse group crf high
school students from the Detroit Metropolitan area who
have been designated as University of Michigan Incentive
Scholars. Student Leaders reside in the residence halls
with the scholars and serve as role models and guides.
They also provide information about the trials and
triumphs of college life. Student Leaders should be very
The Michiganensian Yearbook is
looking for an editor-in-chief for
the 1993-94 school year. Duties
include design, writing, and staff