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Thesis in the Spotlight: Dylan Koester

Publication date

January 17, 2018 3:45 PM


Jake Ward

Tulane Senior, Dylan Koester

Tulane senior Dylan Koester is taking his studies in Music to the next level with his Honors Thesis.


Tulane senior Dylan Koester is taking his studies in Music to the next level with his Honors Thesis, which combines a written analytical component with a concert on February 1st.  Dylan is a passionate aspiring conductor, and is excited to culminate four years of training in conducting at Tulane by working with musicians from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO).

The subject of Dylan’s thesis is the history of the chamber wind ensemble from the 18th Century until today.  In the course of his narrative, he will trace the developments of the style, and analyze several pieces along the way.  The written component is an opportunity for him to delve into the research side of music performance, which, given the name, is often focused on more practical matters.

These practical matters feature prominently in his thesis project as well.  Dylan’s performance component takes the form of a small concert, where he will conduct a dectet of musicians in three chamber wind ensemble pieces.  The ten musicians are from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), and the chance to work with some of the best musicians in New Orleans was a big draw motivating Dylan to begin his project.  He is able to pay the musicians thanks to money from the Dean’s Grant from Newcomb-Tulane College and the Maynard Klein Grant from the Music Department.

As an aspiring conductor, Dylan is viewing the practical component as an excuse to get up on the podium and do some real conducting with professional musicians.  He has been working om conducting with Dr. Maxim Samarov, who is now his first reader, since beginning his studies at Tulane.  Dr. Samarov, Professor of Practice in the Music Department, also composed one of the pieces Dylan has chosen for his performance.  He encouraged Dylan to fulfill his desire to work on a thesis, and follows up regularly during conducting lessons.

So far, much of Dylan’s work has gone into preparing for his concert, which is taking place on Thursday, February 1st at 7:30pm, in the Dixon Annex Recital Hall.  First, he chose the pieces he wanted to perform, thinking deliberately about the structure of the evening.  With the help of Dr. Samarov, he has studied and marked up the scores of these pieces, one of which he describes as “a small symphony,” with 150 pages of music.  However, he has also spent an increasing amount of time on his historical component, receiving feedback from Dr. Samarov, second reader Dr. Jane Mathieu, Assistant Professor of Music, and third reader Dr. Brian Demare, Associate Professor of History.

Though he is motivated by “both extrinsic and intrinsic” factors, Dylan’s passion for music is his driving force for the project.  He is enjoying both components of the thesis, which are both likely to assist him in applying to graduate school for music, and in achieving his eventual aim of becoming a professional conductor at a university.  He is justifiably excited about the prospect of working with ten members of the LPO, and he says his appreciation for his chosen pieces is only growing over time.

When asked for advice for aspiring thesis writers, Dylan says students should “pick your favorite thing you’re studying in school and write about it.”  “Conducting is my favorite thing in music,” he says.

All students are encouraged to attend Dylan’s concert, on Thursday February 1st at 7:30pm, in the Dixon Annex Recital Hall.  The concert is free and open to the public.