Concert of Original Music
BYU-Idaho Senior Capstone Project (2020)
For my senior capstone project during my undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University - Idaho, I set out to stage a concert of original music I had written in front of about 100 audience members. The final deliverable would include a video I edited of the concert filmed from three angles. Each song can be seen below, and I'd love for you to take a listen! Or you can view the concert in full here.
Abram Rice (my best friend, longest collaborator, and show director for the project) led the charge to decorate the stage, decided on a set list from my existing catalog of music, inspired me to finish incomplete songs, and countless other things so that I was able to focus on the music itself.
I owe so much to my incredible friends who collaborated with me on this project. I love and have the utmost respect for the following people!
- Abram Rice (Show Director, Performer)
- Scott Villanueva (Performer, Electric & Acoustic Guitar)
- Trevor Hill (Performer, Acoustic Guitar)
- Olivia Allred (Performer)
- Maryn Tueller (Performer)
- Connor Wood (Performer)
- Ben Barrus (Performer)
- Hannah Rice (Performer)
- Hayley Price (Sound)
- Madison Hatch (Stage Manager)
The main poster I created for my concert featuring the names of all my performing friends! This was the day before lockdowns started across the nation. Logo designed by Maryn Tueller.
When I Have A Song To Sing
The first song of the evening was also the title of the entire concert. This number was also the only song I'd be singing. The rest would be performed by my incredibly talented friends! There are three songs in this concert that I call "One-Minute Ditties". They are short songs that only have a single verse and a chorus. They are complete songs that I don't want to add anything more to because I think they've told the entire story I wanted to tell. This is the first of those songs.
When I Have a Song to Sing is about what music has meant to me in my life. I began playing piano at the age of 18 at a time when I had never been more anxious or felt more alone in my life, and music was the only thing that brought me peace and comfort. I think this song embodies that.
Jitterbug (ft. Scott Villanueva)
I'm a musical theatre kid and am always looking for potential musicals to write. I grew up loving the film The Other Side of Heaven and always thought it had the potential to be a great stage musical. I reached out to the writer/director of the film and asked if I could spec a song to see if they liked it, and then wrote this song. This would be one of the very first songs in the musical taking place at a party where all the couples are dancing. When I thought of them dancing, I imagined them doing the jitterbug, and so that's what I titled the song!
About Me and You (ft. Ben Barrus)
This is the second song of the night that is a One-Minute Ditty. This (I like to think) is the most cliche song of the entire concert, and probably that I've ever written. I didn't try to hide the fact it was a cliche love song, though. The lyrics actually call themselves out as being cliche. I wrote this song about my now wife Olivia and swore at the time that it wasn't for her!
On the Good Side (ft. Connor Wood & Ben Barrus)
Another movie I enjoyed growing up was Mobsters and Mormons. It's an over-the-top film about a mobster that goes into witness protection and is placed in the depths of Utah. It's caricature portrayals of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are the perfect makings of a musical.
For an example song, I decided to focus on the two henchmen trying to locate the mobster in the witness protection program. I felt they were underused in the film and could serve as more comedic relief in a stage adaptation. This song takes place in a computer store as they try to intimidate the computer technician into helping them locate the mobster.
Pokemon World (ft. Trevor Hill & Ensemble)
I once was working with some friends on a musical parody of the Pokemon video games. It's some of my favorite music I've written! Because of time constraints and schedules, I had to leave the project, which meant none of my music made it to the stage... except for this single song on this single night.
For this opening number, I had a blast thinking through everything I thought to be silly about game series, and how to turn those into jokes. Every lyric is a gag referencing something from the opening minutes of a Pokemon game. I was really excited to have my project mentor, Trevor Hill, performing this song as Ash Ketchum! He had never played a Pokemon game, so the first rehearsal was explaining the meaning behind every joke. This song was a lot of fun to finally get in front of an audience for its one-time-only performance.
New Recording 574
One of my simplest pieces, but also one of my favorites. The name comes from the automated title of the original voice memo recording. I've never put a name to it because I've always felt something different while playing it, and never wanted to influence what others might feel while listening to it. I've played this piece when I have so much joy and want to reflect and be grateful, I've played this song when feeling love for my wife, Olivia, and I've played this song when my anxiety is at an all-time high. Abram had the wonderful idea of taking that a step further and had me not introduce the song before playing it. This number indicated the shift in tone for the rest of the show. Everything up until this song had been fun and not connected, but this piece began to explore more emotional tones and compositions.
Anymore (ft. Olivia Allred)
I wrote this piece pretending it was part of a full musical. I wanted to explore the concept that whenever we hold hatred or contempt towards someone, they have power over us. Even if that person doesn't remember we exist, our constant need for them to occupy our mind gives them that power. When we are able to swear someone off from our life, we are able to free ourselves. I wanted to explore that concept quite literally where the main character is trying to swear someone off from her life, and can't take their name in vein in the process.
In the song, Olivia's character has been with a man for years--a man to is manipulative, cheating, and awful. He was the first person to really give her the time of day, and throughout those years, he had made her cut ties with her family and made her completely dependent on him. After finding him cheating on her multiple times, she finally works up the courage to leave. This song finds her writing a letter to this man effectively swearing him off from her life as she packs up her bags to leave.
This is a hard song to sing. The range jumps all over the place, the dynamics are very wide, and there are a lot of emotions. Olivia did an incredible job and I'm so thankful she was able to sing it!
I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After I graduated from high school in 2014, I submitted my papers to become a missionary for my church but was later denied due to my existing anxiety condition. I was heartbroken and felt alone, and it was at that moment that I began playing piano for the first time.
When I first started playing piano, I played often from the primary children's songbook because it had chords above each measure. Still to this day, I feel closest to my Heavenly Father when I am playing the piano. This is a medley of church songs that tell a more complete story of my experience.
The World Needs Love (ft. Connor Wood)
The third and final One-Minute Ditty is a simple song about how we are all so alike in so many ways, and that it really is a simple request to just love everyone. Truthfully, there isn't much more that needs to be said to introduce this one!
The Stories that I Read at Night (ft. Maryn Tueller)
This song follows a young girl reading stories at night under the covers with a flashlight. She's supposed to be asleep, but can't stop herself from reading. She loves the worlds she's able to enter through stories, and she wants to share them with you!
I themed the stories all around existing Disney storylines and had so much fun finding little moments to capture from my favorite Disney stories.
This song was submitted to the Song Writing Challenge at the Garden Theatre in Winter Garden, Florida. It was selected by a panel of judges to be included in their concert! It was performed by Laura Tebbutt, an accomplished actress performing on the West End!
Fast forward to 2023 and I am currently rewriting this piece to be the anthem for a nighttime spectacular firework show I'm creating for my Master's thesis project. It will include full orchestrations, an epic fanfare, and reworked lyrics to become The Stories that I Dream at Night. I'm very excited!
The Opposite of Loneliness (ft. Olivia Allred)
In 2016 I was looking for inspiration at a local Barnes & Noble. I wanted something to write a song about! I saw the book titled The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan, a collection of essays and stories. Even just seeing the cover, I knew I wanted to write about it. It wasn't until after I had read the title essay that I learned more about Marina's story.
Marina wrote this essay as a love letter to Yale University just before graduation. Only days after graduating with her degree, she passed away from a car accident. The essay is beautiful and stands on its own, and her own story sheds new light and meaning on the words she wrote.
I love this song. It is a hard song to play and a hard song to sing. Most lyrics were written by me, and the dialogue is all from Marina's original essay. Just as this essay was a letter to all of Marina's classmates before graduation, this song was a love letter from me to all of my classmates at BYU-Idaho as we were informed only days before the concert that our commencement ceremonies were canceled due to the pandemic. We didn't get to walk, but many of us were in that room together, and that is very special to me.
Fun Fact: When I first met Olivia, she was performing in the musical Big Fish for which I was the sound designer. I really wanted to get to know her, so I asked her to come in one day so I could "work on her microphone." She agreed, and I turned the music on and her mic up and let her sing for a few minutes. After that, we talked for nearly an hour. We went to a practice room and played piano and I showed her this song (which was then a work in progress). Fast forward three years, and she sang it in this concert just months before we were engaged. Yay for happy endings. :)
Reign (ft. Abram Rice & Ensemble)
The last song of the night is another unfinished musical theatre project I dream of completing. It's a choose-your-own-adventure musical where every single storyline is inspired by an existing Shakespeare play. Every night there would be different combinations of scenes where dialogue would change, lyrics would be altered, and entire sections of songs omitted or added based on the current path chosen by the audience! I love this jazzy-funk style and really want to finish this show someday.
Additional Design Materials
I had a lot of fun designing the show's posters, programs, and social media materials for the concert. After Abram came up with the idea for costuming and set decoration, the style I wanted to create for the visual materials became really clear.
My friend, Maryn Tueller, created the brilliant "Hayden Allred's When I Have a Song to Sing" and it fit perfectly into all of the materials!
At the end of the show, we had no extra programs left and had nearly zero programs on the floor to pick up. Most audience members and performers kept theirs. Many people also asked if we had any full-size show posters left!
I'm really grateful we had the opportunity to print our own materials rather than relying on the department's generic programs. It was well worth the extra money.
The program I designed that lists the concert's set list. Logo created by Maryn Tueller.
The program I designed that lists the concert's set list. Logo created by Maryn Tueller.
This concert is the proudest I've been of any project I've worked on. I know it's cliche to say, but I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to perform with, and everyone was so ready to collaborate. The audience was so willing to go along with the adventure and listened to every story I had to share. I don't think I've ever felt such electricity while on stage. The energy in the room made the entire experience such a party. We packed the room to capacity, and I couldn't believe how many people showed up to show their support. I was on cloud nine.
A few weeks later I finished editing the filmed version and uploaded it to social media platforms, and again, was overwhelmed by the support of friends, family members, and people I hadn't even met yet. I'm incredibly grateful for everyone involved, and that we were able to film the concert so it could be something we can look back on forever.
Everyone involved with the concert! I love this group of people and owe them everything. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I'm a live entertainment designer, composer, computer programmer, and frozen treat enthusiast with lots of stories to tell and a wide variety of ways I like to tell them.