January 19, 2023

“This is a huge accomplishment, and it feels like a breakthrough moment for me.”

Alec Rechtiene, Century College student, composed the winning piece for the College Band Directors National Association’s (CBDNA) annual contest. His composition, “Prelude on the Theme of Dies Irae”, is an 8-minute piece influenced by Gregorian chant, and will premiere at the Minnesota Music Educators Association mid-winter conference at the Minneapolis Convention Center on February 18.

“I worked on the piece for two months. I’ve always been fascinated with how people used Dies Irae through time—it’s so versatile, and I wanted to try that. Its motif is weaved through the entire piece,” Alec notes. “This composition is inspired by my love of winter landscapes, and Northern light–but I want the audience to experience it in their own way.

“The genre is post-romanticism–it’s an ethereal piece. A ‘magical mysteries’ piece. Everyone has that – a place or idea that they can’t quite comprehend, whether nostalgic or perhaps a fantasy world.”

Faculty Support at Century College

Now in his second year at Century College, Alec is earning his AFA in Music. He started playing piano at the age of 10, and played bass through high school. As he progressed in his musical education, he learned to play pieces by Mozart, Grieg, Liszt, Mendelsohn, Schumann, etc.—although Gustav Mahler Jean Sibelius, and Johannes Brahms are among his favorites, and it shows up in his award-winning piece.

In addition, he knows the “strings techniques for lower half of an orchestra.”

He chose to continue his education at the College because it was affordable and close to home. “I heard that Century College has great resources and an excellent music program,” Alec remembers.

“And Music faculty Shirley Mier and Eric Graham have been very supportive. Instructor Julia Ehrlich (Elkina) has been a great piano teacher. I would recommend her for any serious piano students.”

Dr. Mier adds, “Alec is an extraordinary student. His talent, dedication, knowledge of and enthusiasm for music is considerable, and will no doubt make this award only one of many honors and achievements he will earn in his career as a music educator and composer. The music faculty at Century are extremely proud of Alec, none more so than I!”

The Importance of Education

“Getting a good education is a way of building our interests,” Alec says. “I want to expand on what I already know in music, and what I’ve learned through the years. . I know history and theory better, but I want to go beyond and become a better orchestrator.”

He adds, “Whether you’re finding your interest or seeking it, education is a way of expanding on that.”

Future Plans

Alec’s future looks bright. This spring, he will be going to Paris with the Education First program, and will graduate at end of summer.

He plans on continuing his education by transferring to a four-year university and getting an education degree. He wants to teach music to young children or give lessons as a private music teacher.

Alec will continue to compose on the side, as he is passionate about creating new music. He’s currently finishing a new piece that he started in Spring 2020, which encompasses all 12 months of the year.

He credits the College for helping him launch his career. “Century College made it possible, especially Shirley Mier. I can’t thank her enough. I went into the CBDNA contest knowing nothing about wind instruments. She helped me work through the technical revisions, and gave me a deeper understanding of what the limitation of the instruments are, and what the instruments can do.

“This experience wouldn’t be possible without her. She helped me bring my musical idea to life–that’s been a huge part in helping me compose this piece. I’m so glad I chose Century College.”

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