When St. Petersburg College’s Community Concert Band takes the stage on May 1, its student members will play a composition written especially for them by two-time Emmy-award winning composer Larry Groupe.
The piece, Heat Lightning, is the first commissioned composition to be premiered by one of the college’s concert bands. The St. Petersburg College Community Concert Band will perform the world premiere of Heat Lightning at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. The performance will be in the Arts Auditorium at the SPC Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St.
“Everyone’s really excited about playing the new piece,” said Nathan Muehl, Director of Band and Orchestra at the SPC St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “It’s a challenging piece but the students have really enjoyed working on it.”
The students also will have a chance to meet and interact with Groupé, whose feature film composition credits include Straw Dogs, Nothing But the Truth, Resurrecting the Champ and The Contender. Some of his other credits include compositions for television series Commander in Chief, Line of Fire and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Groupe will conduct a free Master Class on film scoring from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday in HS 117 on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. The class is open to students and the public. He also will attend the Wind Symphony rehearsal at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.
The composition was funded by a Faculty Governance Organization Creativity Grant awarded to music professors Jeff Donovick and Nathan Muehl. Throughout the process, Groupe has interacted with students by video conferencing from his Los Angeles office. The goal was for students to learn from Groupe during the beginning, middle and end stages of creating a new composition.
“We were able to pick his brain about what he does when starting a new piece, how he gets direction, and the nitty-gritty of how he works through his type of composing,” Muehl said.
(Watch a clip from one of the interactive internet sessions.)
Groupe has family ties to Pinellas County, where he also attended school as a child. He and Donovick knew one another as youths when their fathers worked for Life Sciences, Inc. a research and development center in St. Petersburg.
Donovick describes Groupe as being a man with a heart for education. Groupe previously has taught several master classes at SPC and has conducted guest lectures at other colleges and universities.
“He is a friend of St. Petersburg College,” Donovick said. “He supports what we are doing here and is very interested in the way we do things.”
“So as a friend of SPC, he was willing to not only write the music for less money than one would normally charge commercially, but he was willing to accept the terms that required an educational component,” he said.