‘Ease the Roads’ premiere

Watch Tanner Porter’s new work performed by Exeter’s Concert Choir and Chamber Orchestra.

Nicole Pellaton
June 9, 2021
Exeter students perform in The Bowld

The world premiere of “Ease the Roads,” Tanner Porter’s homage to coeducation at Exeter, may have played to a small in-person audience due to the pandemic, but its impact was enormous.

The result of a year of workshops with students, and interviews with emeritae faculty and alumnae from the early years of coeducation, the genre-expanding piece was performed in The Bowld on May 28, 2021. Rohan Smith conducted.

“It was definitely a good learning experience for me, and very humbling to get to open up my creative process to 70 young people,” says Porter who, prior to the performance, collaborated with Exeter students primarily over Zoom.

The composer used the workshops and interviews to elicit the essence of the Exeter experience in general and in terms of coeducation. From her bird's-eye view of 50 years of history, she was struck by themes of the Harkness table, communication and miscommunication, and dominance in conversation.

Porter describes the piece as ending on a “note that is looking forward,” a reflection of student comments that coeducation and inclusion work is never done. “We’ll be continuing to figure out how to listen more closely to each other forever,“ the composer says.

Porter was on hand for the premiere and answered questions from students in an extended live Q&A.

To learn more about the project and Porter’s musical composition process, see “Symphony of Change,” from the spring Exeter Bulletin.

The commissioning of “Ease the Roads” was made possible through the generous support of the Jane and Clint Gilbert Music Fund.

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