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K-State Today

November 27, 2012

They're playing our song: Faculty member writes musical work to celebrate university's 150th

Submitted by Communications & Marketing

Forget "Happy Birthday to You." Kansas State University will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013 with an original work written by a current faculty member who is also a university alumna.

Laurel Littrell, planning and assessment director for K-State Libraries, wrote "Nature's Law" for the Kansas State University Orchestra to play at the university's sesquicentennial celebration kickoff Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. The kickoff and grand exhibition is open and free to the public from 1-7 p.m. in Ahearn Field House. Littrell's piece will be performed during the kickoff celebration program, which will begin at 4 p.m.

"I have been connected to K-State one way or another for most of my life and I really wanted to give a gift, in my own way, to the celebration of K-State's 150th anniversary," Littrell said. "I am so glad that this can be part of the events."

Littrell graduated summa cum laude from Kansas State University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Music in theory/composition. She earned her Master of Music in theory/composition from the university in 1987. She also has a doctorate in music composition from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a master's in library science from Emporia State University.

Littrell wrote her orchestral fanfare in summer 2012. The piece is written for full orchestra and will feature trumpets and other instruments from the brass section.

When considering the character of the piece, the David Hicks Overmyer murals in Hale Library's Reading Room, where she used to study as a student, inspired Littrell. The historic murals, painted in 1934, depict the different areas of study available at the university at that time: mechanical arts, agriculture, arts and home economics. Littrell used the murals to correspond to the different sections of her piece, invoking the rhythms of the mechanicals arts and the melodies of agriculture.

"Lots of people talk about K-State as a family, and I have always felt that special connection," Littrell said. "I believe a lot of people feel the same way as I do about K-State, and I hope that this piece speaks for the many of us who feel that same connection."

"Nature's Law" reflects what the university has meant to her throughout her life, first as the school where she learned to write music, and now where she works as a faculty member. To make the work even more special to Littrell, her husband, David Littrell, university distinguished professor of music and conductor of the university orchestra, will be conducting the piece. David Littrell also is a K-State alumnus.