The Conservatory of Music Hosts Winter Composers Concert

Maxwell Hinton Performing in the Don Buchwald Theater./Yassir Azzam

By Yassir Azzam


    On Feb. 21, the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College hosted its Winter Composer’s Concert. The show blurred the lines between classical elegance and contemporary flair, showcasing the work of students Maxwell Hinton, Flinn Oliensis, and Zhi Chen. 

   The stage of the Don Buchwald Theater was adorned with various musical instruments ranging from the grand piano to clarinets, trumpets to cellos. As the concert began, the audience was transported onto a musical path, guided by the performers’ skillful words and passionate hearts.    

   Director Bruno Voigt began the performance with some stories that introduced the pianists, each story being a reflection of the work composed, as well as the musicians themselves. Voigt’s piece called “Apartment Hunting” honored the life of his former landlord who passed away after spending a life of being at peace, and was performed by pianist Maxwell Hinton.

   Maxwell Hinton is based out of Brisbane, Australia. He demonstrated his mastery of the keys, his fingers dancing effortlessly across the piano, and brought to life compositions that stirred the soul. “It was a very special and memorable performance,” Hinton told The Vanguard. “Sections of the piece are technically demanding, and so it took consistent practice.” He strengthened his performance skills by doing, “mock performances, trying to emulate the situation as closely as possible.”

  Jay Symon Abrera, a pianist, opened the performance with a composed piece by Flinn Oliensis called  “m2,” displaying his creativity by utilizing a semester’s worth of studies and explorations to develop his compositional method. 

  Flinn Oliensis, a guitarist and vocalist, introduced a new dimension to the performance with his soulful guitar and captivating voice. He submitted three composed pieces: “m2,” “Gravity,” and “Advance Notice.” Oliensis is a NYC native who touches on qualities of pop, guitar, and piano, to discuss his interpersonal conflicts through his music. Oliensis curated his work by experimenting with elements of pitch and rhythm through various instruments. He decided to step out of his comfort zone to display his vulnerability to musical change. Oliensis gave his process for the composition as being organically constructed. 

   “It started out as an arpeggiated melody that I came up with on guitar at some point in high school,” Oliensis said. “The chorus melody was next, and while the lyrics weren’t finalized, the motif ‘I wanna do whatever will make you happy’ came about pretty early on.” 

   As time went on, the composition of the song took on different meanings and the song changed to illustrate “wanting to do the right thing remained.” He hopes to release an album in the future,  which will be a concept album revolving around a multi-genre song cycle that reimagines a traumatic experience of social ostracization from a friend group. 

   Complementing these performances was the composition work of Zhi Chen and his band known as the Chicken Combo Deluxe. Performing “Lots of B’s,” “Seashell,” “Déjà Vu,” “Contemplation,” and “The Chicken.” The instruments not only included a piano and cello, but also a vibraphone, saxophones, flugelhorn, bass, and congas. 

   Together, these musicians and their bands created a unique display of musical experience. As the final notes faded away, the audience erupted into applause, uplifted by the beauty of the music. This concert was more than just a performance, it was a testament to the power of music in uniting and inspiring the community.


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