What is Gladiator?
Gladiator is a contemporary game-style work for music ensemble, written for the Butler University Composer’s Orchestra. The piece can and should be performed by any combination of instruments, including human voices and electronics. The instrumentation is up to the discretion of the ensemble. Although the title is clearly rooted in ancient Roman history, the piece is not meant to be an exact simulation of gladiatorial combat, but rather it is a reimagination of improvisation in the spirit of combat. This piece was born out of a rather comedic discussion I had with a composer friend of mine, in which I suggested a work in which musicians duel each other with their instruments. Within one hour of that discussion, Gladiator was a reality.
The dramatism of this piece is essential to its performance. The Gladiators, the audience, and the Arbitrator are all highly theatrical roles, and the piece works best when the ensemble immerses themselves in the world of the piece. It is also essential that the duelists live the combat in its truest form, not only with their music, but with their bodies and their minds. With all that said, the comedy of this piece is unavoidable, as both me and the audience found ourselves unable to stop laughing during its inaugural performance.
The importance of this work comes from its reimagination of what it means to make music, as well as what it means to attend a concert. Gladiator is built on the idea that music should no longer simply be an exchange between performer and listener, but rather an organic process of creation in which both the audience and the musician play a key role in the performance. The aim of this piece is to inspire musicians to strive for their highest potential, and to inspire audiences to re-envision the music making process.
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Arie Likhtman is currently serving as the Staff Music Editor and Social Media Outreach writer for The University Journal. He is a student at Butler University studying music industry studies and critical communication and media studies with a minor in philosophy. He has worked as an entertainment journalist, as well as a culture reporter for several publications. He freelances as a contemporary music composer, producer, and critical essay writer.