Barry McNamara  |  Published April 19, 2023

A World Premiere

Monmouth College Wind Ensemble will be first to perform “Paideia Fanfare,” a celebration of the liberal arts in the Midwest, at April 28 concert.

JUSTIN SWEARINGER: Monmouth music professor will direct the College's Wind Ensemble April 28 ... JUSTIN SWEARINGER: Monmouth music professor will direct the College's Wind Ensemble April 28 as it performs the world premiere of "Paideia Fanfare," composed by Swearinger's longtime friend, Maxwell Lafontant.MONMOUTH, Ill. – The world premiere of a piece commissioned by Monmouth College music professor Justin Swearinger will be featured during the Monmouth Wind Ensemble’s final concert of the academic year.

Maxwell Lafontant’s Paideia Fanfare will have its “soft premiere” three days prior to the Wind Ensemble’s concert, when the group performs the six-minute work as part of the College’s Scholars Day activities on April 25. Swearinger estimates that the work will be performed at 3 p.m., just inside the south entrance of the Huff Athletic Center.

Swearinger will then conduct the work again during the Wind Ensemble concert at 7:30 p.m. April 28 in the Kasch Performance Hall of Dahl Chapel and Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Celebrating the liberal arts

A graduate of three different universities, Swearinger is pleased to be working at a residential liberal arts college, which is the type of school that his best friend, Lafontant, attended. Lafontant is a graduate of Luther College, which, like Monmouth, is a member of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest.

SPRING CONCERT: In addition to the world premiere, the Wind Ensemble will also honor its graduati... SPRING CONCERT: In addition to the world premiere, the Wind Ensemble will also honor its graduating seniors at the April 28 event.“Max and I were discussing the importance of a liberal arts education, especially now more than ever,” said Swearinger of the idea behind the commissioned work. “From that conversation was born the idea of Paideia Fanfare.”

Paideia Fanfare is a single movement piece for wind ensemble that celebrates the Midwest liberal arts college experience in the vein of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture. It explores traditional academic formalities through a contemporary lens, giving audiences a fresh perspective on a classic form.

The concept of the ancient Greek word paideia is a training of the physical and mental faculties in such a way as to produce a broad, enlightened and mature outlook, harmoniously combined with maximum cultural development.

After 20 years of collaboration, Lafontant and Swearinger – who met as fourth grade students in Marion, Iowa – have a creative understanding and working relationship, which has a proven record of success. Between Lafontant’s compositional experience and Swearinger’s wind ensemble expertise, Paideia Fanfare will put forth the best the genre has to offer.

“My mom was visiting me, and she talked about how cool and meaningful it was for her that Max and I are doing this. She’s seen our whole journey from fourth graders to putting something like this together.” Justin Swearinger

The melodic material figures to be memorable, as it will draw from the Lutheran hymn singing tradition of Lafontant’s upbringing that remains an important aspect of many Midwest liberal arts colleges. The rhythmic material is active and ever-changing, as is the composer’s style, giving Monmouth’s players – and those in the future – a challenging and rewarding experience. The harmonic material pulls from Lafontant’s love of the 20th century Franco-Russian aesthetic of non-functional tonality, giving audiences familiar sounds in an unpredictable way.

“My mom was visiting me, and she talked about how cool and meaningful it was for her that Max and I are doing this,” said Swearinger. “She’s seen our whole journey from fourth graders to putting something like this together.”

Other highlights of the April 28 Wind Ensemble concert will include “honoring and remembering our graduating musicians,” said Swearinger. That will include a performance of a piece titled “Reminiscence.” Senior Kaitlyn McCullough of Springfield, Illinois, will be the “amplified soprano” on a piece based on a poem by e.e. cummings, and the ensemble will perform both movements of composer David Maslanka’s “challenging” short symphony, Give Us This Day.

More on Lafontant

At Luther, Lafontant studied under Brooke Joyce. He received his master’s degree at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas under Virko Baley.

Now based in Minneapolis, Lafontant’s music has been played both nationally and internationally, including premieres by the Nevada Chamber Orchestra, the Mivos Quartet, Aliro Voices and the New Mexico Contemporary Ensemble.

His music has been described as “pithy … whimsical” and “capricious to angsty … and always with charming melodic material.”

Lafontant will be on campus throughout the week of the premieres, and he’ll interact with Monmouth music students on several occasions. His composition will be performed this fall at Luther during its homecoming celebration and at least two other members of the ACM – St. Olaf and Ripon – plan to stage performances of the piece during the upcoming academic year.

Back to News & Events

Did you know?

  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an educational garden and 6.7 acre farm. Students grow and harvest fruits and vegetables to sell at the local farmer’s market. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Garden & Farm</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 99% of Monmouth students received some type of scholarship or financial assistance.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/offices/student-financial-planning/types-of-aid/scholarships/" target="_blank">Scholarships</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers unique academic minors in Global Public Health and Global Food Security for students who want to use their education to address global challenges. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-public-health/" target="_blank">Global Public Health</a></li><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/global-food-security/" target="_blank">Global Food Security</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> 98% of Monmouth graduates were employed or enrolled in graduate school within six months of graduation.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/wackerle-center/career-services/" target="_blank">Career Preparation</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College offers several international trips each year during 2-week Scots Terms in January and May. Recently students have traveled to Botswana, Greece, Scotland, Japan, and more. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Scots Term</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College covers the cost for all current students to get a U.S. passport. Unlock access to over 198 different countries! We’ll even help with the paperwork :)</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/study-abroad/" target="_blank">Study Abroad</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We’re no stranger to winning. Last year the Fighting Scots won Midwest Conference championships in Football, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Basketball and Men’s Track and Field. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_urls"><a href="" target="_blank">Fighting Scots</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College has an active Pipe & Drum Band. Each year on Scholar’s Day in April the bagpipers wake students up at 6:00 a.m. by playing in the residence halls!</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/music/pipe-band/" target="_blank">Pipe Band</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> Monmouth College is proudly test optional. Applicants may choose whether or to submit SAT or ACT scores for admission and scholarship consideration. </p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/admission/apply/test-optional/" target="_blank">Test Optional</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p><strong>Monmouth College is the birthplace of the women’s fraternity movement. Pi Beta Phi, the first such collegiate women’s organization, was founded at Monmouth in 1867. It was followed three years later by Kappa Kappa Gamma. The two pioneering organizations today boast a total of 275 active chapters nationwide.</strong></p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/student-life/sororities-fraternities/" target="_blank">Sororities & Fraternities</a></li></ul></div></aside>
  • <aside class="factoid-item"><div class="factoid-item-text"><p> We offer a certified Peace Corps Preparation program that gives Peace Corps bound graduates a leg up in the application process.</p></div><div class="factoid-item-links"><ul><li class="lw_related_page"><a href="/academics/peace-corps-prep/" target="_blank">Peace Corps Prep</a></li></ul></div></aside>