The Sonic Storyteller

Arts and Sciences

The art of making music for concerts, theater, television, and film is complex: it’s a matter of capturing a mood and setting the right tone for emotional context. But to Tufts alumna Kathryn Bostic, whose recent composition The August Wilson Symphony premiered with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra this past January based on her collaboration with the renowned playwright August Wilson, it boils down to a simple concept: sonic storytelling.Bostic, who guest-taught courses on tonal theory, analog and digital notation, and composition during a short residency at Tufts in the spring, grew up with a composer and concert pianist mother, a music-loving father, and music of all genres and styles at home. She began playing the piano as a small child, and was writing, singing, and playing her own songs by the time she was eight.
“I remember being very engaged with telling little stories, creating little vignettes and skits with music. It was just a natural way of being,” said Bostic. Her brother often joined her. “It was like a conversation,” she said.
Bostic went on to study at Tufts as a music major with the celebrated composer T.J. Anderson and attend the New England Conservatory. “It was an environment that gave me a sense that the sky’s the limit,” Bostic said. “You can create your life without any sense of restraint, because the resources there are fantastic.”
Bostic grew close with her fellow music majors at Tufts, who would check in on her while she practiced, and connected strongly with a professor of African American studies. “She had such a depth to her, such a way of making you feel exalted, like you were special,” said Bostic. “She made me understand that I have the right to question everything. I think that’s one of the biggest gifts I’ve taken from Tufts—to dig …

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