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Jordan Chase: First A&H Student to Win SURF Grant

Jordan Chase
Jordan Chase

When music student Jordan Chase was awarded one of the three available SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) grants for summer 2013, it was the first time the fellowship has gone to a KSC student in the Arts and Humanities. He will receive $4,000 to work on his project, titled “Instrumentation, Orchestration, and Large-scale Composition.”

For this eight-week project, Jordan will create a new composition for chamber orchestra, focusing on several areas of research and composition. He’ll address instrumentation and orchestration, large-scale compositional form, the compositional process itself, and marketing and promoting the piece. His study of instrumentation will require him to learn to play several of the orchestral instruments to make him better able to develop idiomatic compositional ideas. To better understand orchestration, he’ll study works by various composers to enhance his understanding of formal structure. Once Jordan has completed his piece, he’ll send the final score to at least one national competition and contact several local and national conductors in an effort to promote and market it.

“Receiving this grant is the best opportunity that has ever presented itself to me,” Jordan explained. ”Acquiring a summer job that entails studying and writing music is something I didn’t believe was possible this early in my career. For the first time in my life, I am really excited to start my summer job.”

The award offers him a rare opportunity, because It would be difficult for him to write a composition of this size during the regular school year. “This fellowship will help me grow in all areas of composition, because I have never composed a piece this large and involved,” Jordan said. What are the keys to Jordan’s success? “The Keene State Music Department has helped me in every way possible since my first day,” he noted. ”I have come to know a lot of my professors very well over the past three years, and they are all extremely devoted to helping students succeed. My guitar teacher, Dr. José Lezcano, has taught me skills I never realized I could acquire. My composition teacher, Dr. Heather Gilligan, introduced me to the SURF program. Without her guidance and inspiration, I would not have received this fellowship. To now be able to write a new and creative orchestral piece is the result of a creative process that grows from a combination of a stellar education and personal fortitude. It also represents the unending commitment to excellence my college has bestowed upon me.”

When Jordan came to Keene State, he didn’t know much about composition or classical guitar. He began studying guitar with Dr. Lezcano and composition with Dr. Gilligan. “He has worked extremely hard to increase his skills and knowledge in both areas,” Dr. Gilligan said. “He now writes interesting music and has plans to go to graduate school for composition. The composition program here is quite strong and includes training from the ground up. Even though he hadn’t composed when he got here, Jordan has been able to find his compositional voice. He has also become a strong, competent musician through a combination of rigorous classes, thorough testing and assessment, and hard work. He has come a long way in less than three years.”

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