For Justin Tokke, graduating with a degree in music composition is the fulfillment of a childhood dream. “I’ve had music in my life since I was four,” he says. “My dad was a composer, and since sixth grade, I knew that I wanted to compose music too.” This ambition was displayed at Tokke’s senior recital, which took place on Saturday, February 9th in the McInnis Auditorium.
His recital, which featured only original music and arrangements, was divided into two halves. The first was an electronic arrangement, performed by the midi ensemble, which incorporated well-known video game music and songs from three film scores. For the second half, Justin performed an original piece, entitled “Nocturn,” on piano. The recital culminated with an original cantata entitled “Psalm Cycle,” which was performed by the chamber choir, Turning Point. Featuring professors David Bryant and Ron Matthews on piano, the cantata lasted about 30 minutes.
Producing such an elaborate recital was no easy feat. “We had been rehearsing it since June or July,” said Tokke. He started composing for it in February 2011, though “Psalm Cycle” featured a piece that he wrote in high school.
Tokke notes that his discipline is dependant upon creativity, which can be a bit of a challenge. “Composing music starts with a seed of an idea which you take and develop into something usable,” he says. “Once you’ve done that, the hard part is over. The rest is just fun.” But his ultimate goal in composing music is simple: “I write what sounds good.”
Overall, Justin has been pleased with his experience in Eastern’s music department. “The music major here is far more rigorous than most other universities,” he says. “It will prepare you, if you put yourself into it.” Having transferred here from a conservatory, he was “pleasantly surprised at what a gem of a program it is. We have some excellent faculty here.”
After finishing up with his degree at Eastern, Justin plans to work with the New York Philharmonic and hopes to earn his Master’s in Music.