Artist-in-residence Custer will play for concert Saturday
Seth Custer is in his third year of teaching at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., and recently won a prestigious composing award. Saturday, he'll return to UND, his alma mater, to be featured in a concert of musicians from UND and Univers...
Seth Custer is in his third year of teaching at Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C., and recently won a prestigious composing award. Saturday, he'll return to UND, his alma mater, to be featured in a concert of musicians from UND and University of Saskatchewan.
"I think it's definitely something I always dreamed about," Custer said about returning to perform at UND and work with its music department and students. "You walk those halls and sit in those classes and recital rooms and practice rooms for so long. It's always kind of a dream to be able to return there as a teacher and guest to give something back to the department."
The concert of the UND Wind Ensemble with University of Saskatchewan Wind Orchestra will begin at 3 p.m. Saturday at Chester Fritz auditorium. Tickets, available at the door, will be $6 for adults, $3 for students and senior citizens and $12 for a family of four.
Custer will be featured as guest composer and saxophone soloist. The UND Wind Ensemble, directed by James Popejoy, will perform "With Voice of Triumph Raised," a new work by Custer, and Custer will perform "Segaria," a solo work for soprano saxophone and band by Spanish composer Bernabé Sanchis.
Custer, 30, grew up in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks in the musically talented family of the Rev. Mike Custer of Bible Baptist Church and his wife, Grace Custer. All four of their children sang and played in church and performed individually and with various musical ensembles, winning awards and competitions for performing and composing music.
Aaron, Seth, Ethan and Emily Custer all learned to play piano. While Seth gravitated to the saxophone, Aaron's main instrument became the violin and Ethan's the trumpet. Emily, also a composer, is an award-winning pianist and studies music at North Dakota State University.
Seth Custer began arranging existing tunes when he was in high school. It was less of a creative stretch than composing, he said, but helped him get his feet wet. At UND, he primarily studied saxophone but found himself more and more interested "in making the structural decisions" about music than in following what others had written, he said.
About halfway through his time at UND, he started studying with UND music department chair and composer Michael Wittgraf, and began focusing more on composition himself.
Custer wrote "With Voice of Triumph Raised," the piece that will be performed Saturday, for a concert at Bob Jones University and based it on the tune from the hymn "Come, Christians, Join to Sing."
"The hymn has three verses so I decided I would try to take the character from each of the verses and let that be the structure for the three parts of the piece I would write," he said. The tune pops up a lot within the piece, but is used in nontraditional ways, Custer said.
Custer received the Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of 2011 award for "Touch and Go," a piece he wrote for the 2010 state convention of the South Carolina Music Teachers Association. It was a prestigious award to add to his other accomplishments, which (in addition to his undergraduate degree at UND) include a masters in music composition from Central Michigan University and a PhD in composition from University of Iowa.