While most seniors have turned their focus to graduation, Eric Davich '06 prepares for another sort of celebration: the performance of his music honors project, "Transcending the Comfort Zone." Davich wrote the piece in eight movements and has employed 35 Bowdoin students and faculty to participate in the orchestra.

"Transcending the Comfort Zone," which plays in Kresge tonight and Saturday night and is conducted by Concert Band Director John Morneau and Assistant Professor of Music Vin Shende, tells the story of a young man who realizes that there is more to life than his current status quo of parties and typical college hedonism. Davich conveys this epiphany both musically and lyrically.

"In terms of college experience, at first you start encountering brand new things and you want to keep going back to that," Davich said. "But, they're never as good. You wonder, why keep repeating the same thing?"

By the end of the piece, Davich's character comes to this realization and resolves to create his own path and stop worrying about what it means to leave his "comfort zone" behind.

The lyrics of "Transcending the Comfort Zone" effectively communicate this message, but the orchestration and harmonies of the movements provide a more subtle and artistic expression of the protagonist's learning experience. Nick Collins '07, who plays the clarinet, described the piece as "pretty complex" and said that "the music invokes different situations."

In one movement, Collins deliberately plays out of tune to create the party atmosphere.

"It makes you feel disoriented, like you're at a party, like you're drunk," he said.

To develop this complex orchestration, Davich drew on his many musical experiences at Bowdoin.

"I'm aiming to bring in all influences and create an original genre," he said.

In addition to playing in the bands Second Breakfast and Jim Weeks Philharmonic, Davich has also dabbled in jazz and classical and participated in last year's World Music Ensemble, where he learned African drumming.

"People get thrown off by a chamber orchestra and they think classical, but it's not that," Davich said. "But it's not some gimmicky guy trying to write pop music, either."

"The first thing you're reminded of is rock, pop, and jazz," he said. "There's a foundation in African drumming with the woodwinds with this bluesy thing going on, and you're hearing the drummer and the electric bass playing a funk pattern with the woodwinds and brass."

Shende, who helped Davich compose the piece and will conduct the orchestra on Saturday night, recognized the many influences present in Davich's musical and lyrical composition.

"It's a cumulative project that combines jazz, classical, and rock, where the melodies are rock derived and there's jazz orchestration and harmonies," Shende said. "There's a lot of Eric in the biographical sense. It's about a college student in an atmosphere that prays to the false gods of parties and hedonism realizing there's more to life, and he looks for other venues with more of a sense of purpose."

Shende cited the Buddhism classes that Davich took as another influence, where he discussed "the courage to let go of the trappings of the world and not have expectations of certain paths." This expectation of certain paths not only applies to Davich's protagonist, but also to elements of the music itself.

One of the main challenges that Davich faced was not simply composing the piece, but building the orchestra. Most of the performers were recommended to him by other students and faculty, showing that the six degrees (often less) of separation at Bowdoin does come in handy.

Keirnan Willett '07, the piece's flautist, was one such recruit.

"There's a lot of diverse styles, and from that I can appreciate the work that [Davich] put into [the piece]," Willett said. "There's a lot of breadth to the piece. It's a bold work."

The breadth that Willett describes is why Davich wanted so many students involved, in order to have the "big sound" of an orchestra. Shende pointed out that when most people hear "orchestra," they think it will "sound quasi-Mozart, but it's definitely not.

"It has more to do with Pink Floyd and Bill Evans," he said. "There are nice and unexpected turns melodically, harmonically, orchestrationally."

For those who want to answer that challenge and hear the music of a budding composer, Davich's show will be tonight and Saturday at 8 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium.