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Stylistic Comfort Zone Pushed


Madison, Wisc., native Zachary Green is a composition student who’s thrown himself into Juilliard life since arriving here three years ago. A Resident Assistant (R.A.), he’s also a tour guide, ear training teaching fellow, and Journal contributor. He recounted the events of a busy February Sunday.

Zachary Green

Zachary Green

(Photo by Harrison Linsey)


10:30 a.m. I’m not a morning person, but loud noises in another suite have jolted me to a greater state of wakefulness than usual. Thanks, neighbors.

10:50 a.m. Shower, then outfit-picking time. Today I choose my staff T-shirt from Orientation 2013, paired with faded black jeans, one of my favorite gray suit jackets, and a gray striped button-up for later. I catch up on Facebook, emails, and texts before I head down to the cafeteria to grab a quick snack.

12:15 p.m. Arrive in the Student Lounge to help out with Group Process, which is part of the Office of Student Affairs’ system for selecting next year’s student leaders (R.A.’s, programming assistants, orientation leaders, colloquium peer mentors, and community assistants). Roughly 60 students applied, and they’re divided into smaller groups and evaluated as they’re led through various leadership activities. As an R.A., I get to sit in on one of the activities and help with the evaluations, and I’ve been looking forward to this all week. It’s exciting to see who might be joining our staff next year, and it brings back memories of what I was like when I applied two years ago.

3 p.m. Group Process has ended, and I’m a little exhausted from the evaluations. I get a potato samosa in the caf and chat about the day with my friend Mary Chieffo, another R.A. [and a third-year drama student].

3:50 p.m. I change into the button-up shirt in the bathroom and walk to school for my 4 p.m. ear training coaching. All of the 13 ear training teaching fellows are required to provide one hourlong public coaching session each week in which students from any level can come and practice in preparation for their classes. Because people are so busy during the week, my Sunday coaching is fairly popular; today, seven students stop in.

5 p.m. I go straight from my coaching into a music rehearsal for the dance piece I created with third-year dancer Ruth Howard as part of last semester’s Choreographers and Composers Workshop. Our piece, Lut Ave Dontralus, is for three singers, two dancers, and a cellist, and it’s going to be reprised by Periapsis Music and Dance, which has selected it to be part of its winter series next week in Brooklyn.

5:50 p.m. My musicians (all third-years)—singers Alex McKissick, Mary-Liz O’Neill, and Nicolette Mavroleon, plus cellist Keiran Campbell—are amazing. They haven’t looked at the piece in months, and yet they read it as if they performed it yesterday. I have very sentimental feelings about this piece—it was one of the rare instances where everything came together even better than I had hoped it would, and that’s due in no small part to the incredible artistry and devotion these musicians brought to it. They’re so good that rehearsal ends far sooner than expected—we only needed two full runs and a couple of touch-ups. This reminds me of why I love this school. It also gives me time to eat.

6 p.m. Dinner in the cafeteria, and then some unplanned time to myself. I guess my room could use a little tidying. It’s also time to change the water of Fishelle, the 18th-floor fish, who lives in the hallway. My favorite resident.

7:30 p.m. Residence Life staff meeting. Each week, all the resident and community assistants get together and discuss building issues, programming plans, and staff goals. Today we also reflect on Group Process.

8:30 p.m. I catch up on a couple more emails, and I also buy my Greyhound tickets for next Sunday, when I’m going to Pittsburgh and back to see Arielle [Rogers] (B.M. ’07, M.M. ’09, harp), Chelsea Chen (B.M. ’05, M.M. ’06, organ), and violinist Lewis Wong perform my new piece Tideswept. Unfortunately, the concert is the day after my dance piece is to be performed in Brooklyn, so I have to go straight from the Brooklyn performance to an overnight bus, and then come back on another overnight bus the following night to arrive home in time for class. It will be an adventure. 

9:30 p.m. Write! I’m working on a crazy piano piece for my dear friend and fellow third-year Robert Fleitz for his recital in April. He’s one of my favorite people in the world, and it’s intimidating to try to write a piece that will do him justice. I’ve settled on making a direct homage by calling the piece Flights, a play on his last name, and using that theme to create three miniatures which depict both literal and metaphoric flights. I’m trying to push myself out of my stylistic comfort zone, so this piece is going to be based more on gestures than melodies.

10:30 p.m. I give my parents a call—our weekly check-in. Three more weeks until I go home to Madison for spring break!

11:15 p.m. Back to writing—today it’s proving difficult. I have already planned out the structure of the first movement of Flights, but after listening to Ligeti’s Piano Etudes this week at the suggestion of my teacher, I’m beginning to rethink what I was originally intending to use as my main musical idea. I improvise at the piano, searching for a new one, and sketch out the ideas in my sketchbook, but I haven’t quite found the right one yet. 

Midnight The dorm practice rooms have closed, and therefore it’s time for me to reluctantly end this day. It was a good one.

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