As a LaGrange College freshman, Harrison Dagenhart is already making a name for himself in the music world.
The student wrote a musical composition for the Callaway High School band, which they performed at their Spring concert. The piece is titled “Villainus: The Darkside of Disney”, and features six villain themes from Disney movies including: The Little Mermaid, Princess and the Frog, Lion King, 101 Dalmatians, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
“I was excited for the opportunity to compose and have it played,” said Dagenhart.
Dagenhart, who is a graduate of Callaway High school, said he was invited to compose the piece by Band Director, Adam Wamsley. He began working on the composition last October, using his knowledge of Disney to decide which songs were the most popular, retrieving the scores from the songs he chose, then arranging them to present to the band. Dagenhart said the music was done in January, the score was finished in March.
“He had to find a fresh way to say something with music that is well known and loved by the audience,” explained Professor Lee Johnson, the Fuller D. Callaway Professor of Music at LaGrange College. ” Harrison was able to put his own personality into the arrangement, which is a sophisticated process.”
Not an easy feat, when you’re a student who also has academic classes to work on too.
“It doesn’t happen very often that an incoming freshman shows this kind of desire to do such large scale work,” said Professor Johnson. “It’s a delight to behold, and an honor to be his teacher.”
Johnson said he introduced Dagenhart to different techniques, from arranging to re-conceptualizing harmonies. But he said the concept for the piece, the creativity, and hard work, all came from his student.
And Dagenhart’s composition has been well received. Johnson said “Villainus: The Darkside of Disney” and Dagenhart were judged before a musical jury, part of the last grading event of the semester at LaGrange College. The jury said of the piece and the composer, ” Because the piece spoke so well to the young musicians, it’s evidence he understands their individual instruments.”
The Callaway High School band recorded the eight and a half minute composition Thursday afternoon in the Callaway Auditorium, which will allow the piece to be officially published.
Dagenhart said he fell in love with music at a young age. He was part of the West Side Magnet School, which focused on string arts. He plays trombone, percussion, and piano, and played with the LaGrange Youth Symphony Orchestra for three seasons, in addition to being part of the Callaway High School band.
This is only the beginning for the LaGrange College Freshman. Dagenhart said he plans on composing original scores of music, in addition to creating a song cycle: a collection of pieces that all have an underlying theme. With this big composition already under his belt, Dagenhart said he hopes to become a full time music composer once he graduates college.