Maria Siino Senior Showcase

The fall semester at Santa Fe University of Art and Design is drawing to a close. For many students on campus, this means it is time for their senior shows. For Contemporary Music Program senior Maria Siino, the show is the culmination of years of preparation. “Senior shows are something to look forward to and prepare for throughout college as you learn to hone your creativity,” Siino says.

Siino’s show took place Dec 6. in O’Shaughnessy Performance Space. The showcase featured two acts that were both made up of Siino’s original compositions.

Act 1, called ‘New Music’ featured two original songs. Siino played guitar and was accompanied by five other instruments (Cajon, Violin, Bass, Piano and Cello) played by other CMP majors who agreed to help with the performance. The pieces were beautiful, mellow and brilliantly put together, keeping the audience captivated from the first note.

For Act 2, Siino composed three of the four songs for the Javanese Gamelan and was accompanied by the Gamelan class. The relaxing sounds and tones floated through the performance space leaving the audience smiling through the colorful and rhythmic tones.


Jacklalope Magazine: How long were you working on the pieces for your show and can you tell us a little more about that process?

Maria Siino: I started working on “Springtime Piecemeal” and “Fibonacci Sequence” during sophomore year here, when I was taking 20th Century Theory and Collegium Ensemble with Steve Paxton, and the gamelan pieces, during sophomore and junior year. It’s a long process; I recommend starting early if you’re a CMP major. I’ve found that whenever I think a piece is done, my professors would proofread them and ask me to expand upon it to fix things. It’s great because they were pushing me to improve my composition skills, but it means that the process can take a while.


Have you always been interested in composing music?

I’ve been writing rock songs since I was 13, but I didn’t start composing until sophomore year of college.


Is composition a required component for you to graduate?

 Composition isn’t required in the CMP program, but I’m applying to the graduate Composition program at Mills College in Oakland, CA and I wanted to work on my portfolio as part of my senior show. Having an opportunity to compose for my senior show allowed me to apply for an M.A. [master of arts degree] in Composition at Mills.


Why are senior shows so beneficial to music students? 

Senior shows are something to look forward to and prepare for throughout college as you learn to hone your creativity, and they’re actually really useful for career development. For example, a performance at a college or a university can be used as proof of publication for ASCAP [American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers], so performing at school is helping me start my own solo publishing company.

I also performed in my friend Caitlin Brothers’ senior show when I was a sophomore, and it influenced my own senior show quite a bit. She composed for gamelan, too, and that inspired me do something similar for my own senior show. Performing in other students senior shows is really good practice and you get to be a part of all different kinds of performances. I actually wish I’d performed in more senior shows, because they’re good practice and they’re always really unique. Your senior show can be anything you want it to be, so if you’re a CMP major and you’re unsure of what to do for your senior show, I’d recommend going to see one.


What is the process for getting other musicians to work with you?

It’s tricky, the instrumentation can change many times for this type of show and musicians drop out all the time, but really you just need to have musicians who care about the project and work hard. Skill level is often varied in ensembles, but that’s a goodthing. Everyone learns a lot from that type of experience.


What have you taken away from your degree and time at SFUAD?

 The variety of courses in the music department has been really useful for me. There are classes in music history, music business, music theory, and a ton of different ensembles. The diversity of course material has been invaluable to me. I’m moving back to the Bay Area after I graduate in a couple weeks, and I had no idea that there were so many gamelan ensembles where I’m from. If I hadn’t been exposed to gamelan at school here, I never would have known about it.


Overall do you think the show was a success?

 It was great, everyone seemed really engaged and the musicians did a really good job. I did make a mistake, though in the program I put that “In C” was written by Steve Reich, when actually it’s by Terry Riley. It’s not that important, but Steven Paxton wanted me to make a public correction during the show and I forgot. This is for you, Steve.