By Jamela Lewis, Staff Writer
Picture yourself in a dark castle high upon the Scottish hillside, as you rest comfortably in a tall red velvet chair alongside Dracul-the Master of Ceremonies. Sounds gothic? Bryan Waring’s senior composition on Sunday, April 15, 2018 fulfilled a partial degree requirement for Bachelor of Music Performance. The eerie theatrical program was “a pleasant surprise,” says Waring’s mother, Bonnie. The Corthell Concert Hall located on the woodsy USM Gorham campus was the quintessential location befitting the hellish operatic overtones that played into the night from 8 p.m. to approximately 9:30 p.m.
With friends, family and 35 supporting musicians at his fingertips, Waring directed his show through the gates of hell into Dante’s Inferno, the prevailing theme. In a pre-performance interview Waring made it clear that his intentions to include “elements of opera, death, Broadway, rock and roll, and jazz” for the subliminal background connected the “nine Circles of Hell.” It’s tempting not to label the recital as a play or concert since a few pieces of music involved at least five other instruments in addition to a piano or two. Vocals were exchanged between a chorus and a quintet as Waring made a ghostly passing through Circle I-Limbo into Circle V-Wrath.
Waring’s theatrical directing skills came into focus for Circle V-Wrath. The foreign film, Crude was shown without a movie screen against bare organ pipes. Waring was inspired to write the score while participating in a study abroad exchange in Scotland. He said, “I stumbled upon a crew filming a movie about a man who had just found out he lost his job and all that he felt about the whole situation was self-destructive.” The creepy, distorted sounds of dripping and psychedelic colorful shapes against tall organ pipes created a chilling effect. A close-up of a slow blinking eye would appear as the sounds grew louder.
Post intermission was a daring walk across hot coal. Waring continued the path down Dante’s Circle VII-Violence and vocalist, Megan Mayfield was in sync. She sang a beautifully haunting title named “Bae,” that featured a disturbing message about a rape including suicidal flare. The show culminated at Circle IX-Treachery, with a lyrical promise that “There Will Be No Miracles Here, Now.”
Waring produced the majority of music for the presentation that was over five years in the making. Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, Waring’s music teacher said, “Bryan is such a dedicated hardworking student that I have no doubt about his future capabilities.” Sonenberg was asked, What is the one thing that Bryan doesn’t know that you want him to know before he takes off for his graduate program at Belmont University in Nashville? He responded, “Take in this moment. Take this night and savor it because successful musicians will have to suffer a lot of disappointments before the ‘Big One’,” hinting for Waring not to be absorbed by heartaches.
Twenty-one-year-old Waring has long moved past years of heartaches, overcoming eating disorders and loss of friendships. It’s no wonder Bryan Waring Goes To Hell is similar to the representation of a phoenix rising from the ashes rebuilding his self-image so as to gain a stronger self-worth. His family and friends are awestruck with his progress, but his sister Karenna gracefully stated with confidence that “I know him really well. He’s my brother and I know what he is capable of.” Bonnie somberly told of Waring’s tough childhood having to be bussed to schools across town and how the commute weighed heavy on Waring’s psyche.
Waring was adamant about crediting his bandmates. According to a music school freshman named Jake, “Waring might be a senior, but he never used that as a position of hierarchy. He’s just a really good friend and I learned a lot from him.” Nashville may not know what’s coming but Waring is ready. He and his family did a reconnaissance mission to the cross-genre music capital shortly after the winter subsided. His father Gene confided, “It was an interesting day when we went down there, and they had just come out of a freeze and nothing freezes there.”
Waring showed enthusiasm for contributing to the pop music scene and explained it has the largest market potential over opera. “Think about it. Where there’s a market there’s a demand. Can you imagine paying five dollars for a Beyoncé concert? In Scotland I got into an opera for as little as five bucks.”
The after-party gave prominence to fresh fruit, spicy wings and a buttercream-filled cake. Colleagues of USM School of Music joked with one another while the band members rolled up their sleeves and loosened their ties. Waring and Karenna posed for photos with glee while Bonnie made sure everyone in the room was offered a slice of cake. When asked what is your favorite snack? Waring responded, “Cocktails.”