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Meet the professor behind music composition

Susan Neimoyer first got involved in music writing as a ten-year-old in her small town in northern California.

“There were three of us who were interested in playing music, so we put together a garage band,” Neimoyer said. “We weren’t good enough on our instruments that we could learn stuff by other people, so we made up our own songs. So that is when I started writing music, and it’s just developed from there.”

Neimoyer, a faculty member in the music department, has been the primary composition professor at BYU-Idaho since 2017. She works as the faculty advisor for the Student Composer’s Society along with Michael Wahlquist, a visiting faculty member in the music department.

The society meets every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in room 185 of the Eliza R. Snow Center. They also meet weekly for a masterclass to perform for each other.

Neimoyer has been teaching music at different universities for 15 years after receiving her doctorate’s degree at the University of Washington in 2003. She loves working with the students here on campus and tells students that anyone with an interest is invited to participate in the society.

“What we do is, students will bring in pieces of music they’re working on and get feedback from not just the teachers, but other people in the group,” Neimoyer said. “It makes it a little bit more collaborative. Or, we talk about a specific musical subject or look at musical works that are being written contemporary.”

The type of music writing they focus on in the masterclass is different than what most students think of when they hear about songwriting. There is more of a focus on music that one might find in film scores or hymns, rather than regular songs on the radio.

“There are a couple of my students, a couple of seniors, who are in the process of teaming with the student film society and they are writing music scores for those short films, which is a great opportunity,” Neimoyer said.

She encourages students to come to the recital. Neimoyer and Wahlquist have performed with glass crystals and the piano doing improvisation. Neimoyer teases that they may do the same thing this semester.

“It will be fun,” Neimoyer said. “We’ve got a tremendously gifted group of students. It will be interesting. This is music that is being written by people who are going to school here. It’s an opportunity for them, but it’s also just an opportunity to hear something you probably won’t hear again. Why wouldn’t that be a good thing?”

For more information about the recital, visit the on the BYU-I calendar.event page

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