American School of Doha Composer debuts ‘Aurora’ at THIMUN Qatar

Since THIMUN Qatar’s inception, The American School of Doha has been an important part of the conference’s opening ceremonies. This year the ASD Percussion Ensemble performed at the closing ceremony. Led by student composer Ben Lemoing, the group debuted ‘Aurora’ at #tq2016.

We interviewed Ben before the conference and got his thoughts on performing at THIMUN Qatar 2016.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m 15 years old, Canadian, and have been living in Doha for about 5 years. I’ve been interested in composing since I was 10 years old; back then I would make songs on Garageband using Apple loops. When I was around 13, I purchased a more professional program and started to make instrumental music with a MIDI keyboard, playing everything by hand. Since then, I’ve released two albums on iTunes, and am preparing for the release of a third which features Aurora, along with others including a song that features guest vocals, which is a first for me.

Why the title “aurora”?  What does the title convey about the song?

With my song titles, I generally like to tie them to a visual image that I have in my mind when I listen to it. Aurora has a very ethereal, otherworldly feel to it and the sounds that you hear are warm and pretty-sounding. Since there aren’t any lyrics I like to choose titles that can be interpreted differently by everyone.

What challenges or joys did you face when you composed this piece?

Production-wise, the song came together pretty easily and I was happy with it, when it was first composed in July. There weren’t many roadblocks in the writing process, as it was originally an all electronic song, so it just had to be arranged for real instruments. It was slightly more challenging to arrange parts for percussion however, as this was my first time ever notating my own music, or any music for that matter. It was also difficult to find the fine balance between the percussion instruments and the electronics that you hear in the background. It was a rewarding experience when I was able to hear it all together though. 

Are you interested in composing and will you be composing future pieces?

Definitely. As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be releasing a new album with 14 new pieces including Aurora in March, but I hope in the future I’ll be able to arrange more of these pieces for the percussion group, or perhaps composing something from scratch outside of the electronic dance music genre.

 Tell us about the piece: what should the listener get out of listening to it.

There are many emotions that I associate with different parts of the song that I hope people will be able to experience when they listen to it. For example, I hope people will appreciate the beauty of the verses, the various build-ups and swells that you hear throughout the piece, the catchiness of the opening melody. I also hope that listeners will be able to appreciate the complexity and the power that computers possess musically. Electronic computer music often gets a bad name for being “fake” and “not creative” (which I will admit is true for some), but the precision and intricacy that is made possible by the computer is something that I find amazing.

Percussion

What does it mean to you to perform this at a huge venue like QNCC and for an audience of 2000 individuals?

Honestly, I find it terrifying but also extremely exciting. I have the chance to show my music to a huge amount of people to the first time, but there’s always that voice in the back of my mind telling me ‘what if you don’t impress them’? ‘What if it doesn’t turn out the way you expected’? I have lots of experience performing on stage, but I don’t think I’ve ever performed to such a large audience before. I think it’s a great opportunity to show my music to people. It’ll be a thrilling experience.

Percussion group