Senior curtain call
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Senior curtain call

Geoff Nelson and Kaylie Walker reflect on and prepare for upcoming recitals this weekend

By Laura Koenig | Echo


Music composition major Geoff Nelson will perform original songs he composed

After four years in Taylor’s Music Department, seniors Geoff Nelson and Kaylie Walker reflect on their musical and personal journeys as they prepare for their senior recitals this weekend. The seniors have practiced and perfected their pieces for months, wanting them to represent their musical talent and growth.

Nelson, a music composition major, will showcase original songs he has written at Taylor. Walker, who is a church music major, features classical pieces from all over the world for her soprano voice recital.

The Echo sat down with Walker and Nelson to discuss their experiences in music, as well as preparations for their upcoming recitals.

Echo: What pieces will you be performing? Which one is your favorite?

Walker: I am performing other people’s music…about 14 foreign classical pieces in four different languages: Italian, French, German and English. My favorite piece is “Vocalise” by (Sergei) Rachmaninoff.

Nelson: I will not be performing most of the pieces. It is a composition recital, so a lot of my friends, in chamber ensembles, will be performing music that I have written. There will be six live pieces and a piece for electronic media where I will be using different kinds of synthesizers. I really enjoy my last piece, called “Rabbit Trails.” It starts off with an idea and takes that idea in many different directions, like a rabbit trail. Then the piece comes back together at the end.

Echo: How did you get started in music?

Walker: Growing up, my parents traveled and sang with a gospel trio, so when I was little I would sing with them. I was in 8th grade when I first sang by myself in front of people. I always knew that God wanted to use my voice. At first, I was thinking about studying music education because I wanted to teach. However, the summer before my freshman year at Taylor, I got thrown into the role of leading worship at a camp where I worked. After that summer, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  That is when I found the church music program at Taylor.

Nelson: It seems like I have always been in the state of catching up in music. I did not start playing the French horn until the end of my sophomore year of high school. I came to Taylor as a generic music major. However, I found myself in the music lab fooling around on Finale, the notation program. I started writing, and I switched my major to music composition.

Echo: What have you learned during the past four years at Taylor, both musically and personally?

Walker: Musically, I have learned how to properly use my voice and sing. It is a lot more disciplined than singing in chapel. It takes a lot of training, practice and lessons to learn how to use my voice. I have also learned how to be disciplined. I am actually finishing something and seeing it to completion.

Nelson: My composition professor has done a good job exposing me to a wide variety of music and music history. I learned how past composers have thought of new ways to write music and how I can build off of what they have done to create something that is mine and unique. I also learned that I have to be willing to change. I have to be open to new things, even if I do not like the idea completely, and use the parts I do like in my own music.

Echo: Who is your biggest mentor/inspiration?

Walker: I want to be a worship leader, and I love Kari Jobe. Another inspiration is my older sister. She was my first example of what a worship leader looked like.

Nelson: One of my mentors is Dr. (Dana) Collins, the composition professor. He has been an incredible friend, giving me many opportunities and spaces to grow as a musician, composer and person. An honors orchestra director from back home, Dr. Stephen Gage, originally inspired me to do music. The passion he puts into his conducting and leading was clearly evident.

Nelson performs on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the Recital Hall, and Walker will perform Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Recital Hall.



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