The Story of Slepoi

Aaron Slepoi ’17’s contribution to the arts at Swarthmore has spanned four years and countless projects in Swarthmore’s Music Department. From his work as a clarinetist in the College Orchestra to his role as an operations intern for Orchestra 2001, Slepoi has participated in a wide number of music productions at Swarthmore.
“It is hard to imagine the [Swarthmore Music and Dance] department’s orchestral activities without Aaron these last few years, he has been so deeply involved with everything,” said Professor of Music Andrew Hauze.  
Hauze first met Slepoi during his first semester, where he played as a clarinetist in the College and Chamber Music Orchestra, which are conducted by Hauze. Hauze knew Slepoi would eventually be involved in the music program at Swarthmore, even though Slepoi did not know he was going to major in music at the time. Hauze coached Slepoi in Chamber Music Orchestra his freshman year, and later coached Slepoi again his sophomore year as part of his Conducting and Orchestration course. Slepoi later began an independent study with Hauze in Orchestration which he continued through his senior year. Slepoi’s work with Hauze resulted in an invitation to conduct a professional orchestra last September during the Chamber Orchestra First Editions. Hauze has seen Slepoi’s passion and dedication to his music numerous times, both through their mentoring and orchestral work and Aaron’s integral roles in numerous projects and productions within Swarthmore’s Music Department.
“It is clear that he has a real passion for understanding both music and its context within the broader culture,” said Hauze.
Slepoi’s work in Swarthmore’s Music Department has been integral to the productions of the opera “Dido” and “Aenaeas” last spring and in Orchestra 2001’s performance of “Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale”. Slepoi was also included as a conductor in a lab orchestra created this year, where the student conductors select the pieces to be practiced.
Slepoi’s work in music at Swarthmore culminated in his March 18 senior recital. Two of the pieces Slepoi paired, Arvo Part’s “Tabula Rasa” and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins, BVW 1043”, came to fruition last August. Slepoi then looked for two other pieces that would speak to the pairing in the same way, settling on Arcangelo Corelli’s “Concerto Grosso” and Lind Caitlin “Smith’s Bloom”, which he gave its U.S. premiere. Slepoi then proceeded to reach out to musicians in September, including recital soloists Berlin Chen ’19 and June Lee ‘17. Throughout fall break, Slepoi continued to prepare working on  building a team, obtaining funding, purchasing the score rights from publishers, creating a rehearsal schedule, reserving space, and distributing parts. When asked about his role as a conductor, Slepoi said,
“What I love about orchestral playing is that it is an incredibly collaborative idea with numerous musicians all making the same music, and I see my role as the conductor as a facilitator for the maker of music,” said Slepoi.
The recital featured classical pieces, half of which were from the baroque period and the other half from the contemporary period, that focused on the idea of the concerto. The coherent was coherent as all the pieces used similar instruments. The styles, however, were radically different. On the structure of the concert, Slepoi said,
“A well structured concert is like a meal, you want to start off with an “appetizer,” something that helps ease people into a listening mood, and [Corelli’s Concerto Grosso] was perfect for that because it was kind of candy, and then you can start getting into music that is heavier and “meatier.” Then you end on an “applause line,” where the audience will stand up and applaud at the end rather than being taxed emotionally,” said Slepoi
Slepoi sought to end on an applause line by pairing Part’s “Tabula Rasa” with Bach’s “Concerto for Two Violins”. The pairing brought shock for members of the audience, according to Hauze, because of the transition from the quiet and hypnotic end of Part’s concerto into the same key of Bach’s concerto that possesses an outburst of activity and volume.
“It’s about building a program that is varied and exciting, both in the style of the substance and at the same time everything is connected and, ideally, having every piece on the program informing every one of the other pieces on the program,” said Slepoi.
Despite having previous knowledge of the pairing, Hauze was also one of the members who was shocked and astounded at the pairing of the two pieces and the overall concert.
“It was tremendously impressive from a musical, leadership, and curatorial standpoint. He devised a very interesting a powerful program all on his own,” said Hauze.
Slepoi’s plans for the future are to eventually attend graduate school for conducting, but for now he will stay in the Philadelphia area to work with and further his contacts in the classical music industry. He plans to work on his craft, to grow as a musician in the Philadelphia area and make music that is worth seeing. For now, however, you can watch Slepoi conduct one of the pieces in the Sounds of Cinema with Orchestra 2001 performance on April 1, and along with Andrew Kim ’18 when they conduct the lab orchestra in a performance at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia on April 18.
Slepoi is an individual who is passionate about his music, so much so, he created a folder on his desktop filled with orchestrations for hypothetical concerts that may or may not happen.He sees his senior recital not as the end of his music career at Swarthmore, but instead the beginning of the work he wants to do with music. When it comes to making music, Slepoi said:
 “When you make music, it has to have a purpose. If you are not doing something interesting, composing music or engaging with people in a new way, you are not adding anything new to the world. It should have a social purpose or an artistic purpose.”

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