John Orfe Composes Piece for 9/11 Vigil

September 9, 2011

Dr. John Orfe is a busy man. Over the past several months, he has been composing "In Memorium," a piece that will be performed at this weekend's Sept. 11 memorial event, "Vigil for Peace" at St. Mary's Cathedral.

"'In Memorium' is scored for 15 strings, eight brass, four percussion, two choirs and an organ. There is also a soprano solo," said Orfe, assistant professor of music theory, ear training, composition, and piano.

Dr. John Jost will conduct the Bradley Chorale, Dr. Kerry Walters will sing the soprano solo and Dr. Sherry Seckler, who is the director of music at St. Mary's Cathedral, will play organ.

"Everyone in chorale seems excited to be performing the piece," said Morgan Nenne, a senior who is performing in the chorale on Saturday.

When Orfe was approached about the vigil, he knew he wanted to contribute.

"Writing music for a solemn occasion is one way a composer can serve his or her community. There are possibilities in music that can provide keen expression to the reactions to an event of overwhelming magnitude such as 9/11," Orfe said

"In Memorium" is 15 minutes long and uses the biblical texts of Psalms 64 and Ecclesiastes 3.

On top of teaching at Bradley and composing, Orfe is also Composer-in-Residence of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra.

"In my first 15 months as Composer-in-Residence, I've composed two season opening pieces for the full orchestra and one chamber work, helped design and implement the first-ever Illinois New Music Festival in late May 2011 and joined forces with area film group Reel to Real and provided a live piano soundtrack to the Soviet Russian silent film classic 'Battleship Potemkin.'" Orfe said.

Orfe also performs in an ensemble, Alarm Will Sound.

"Alarm Will Sound performs 10-12 concerts a year in different cities across the U.S. and Europe. Contemporary classical music is extremely stylistically diverse, and we run the gamut," Orfe said 

The ensemble will soon travel to Krakow, Poland and Bolzano, Italy and will feature Orfe at the keyboard. One may think that Orfe rarely takes a break, but it is clear that he doing something that he loves 

"Vigil for Peace" will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 7:15 p.m. at St. Mary's Cathedral, 607 N.E. Madison, in Peoria.