Senior Eakin composes score for ‘Arabian Nights’ production


Kira Suerth

Bearden senior Will Eakin has composed and will perform live the score for Bearden’s production of Arabian Nights.

Emily Simmons, Staff Writer

For many aspiring musicians, exposure to music begins at a young age and grows to develop into a passion for the art throughout life, but for one Bearden musician, this was not exactly the case.

“Music only began to influence my life when I entered the fifth Grade, and I bet you know why,” Bearden senior Will Eakin said. “Recorders.”

After that rite of passage of mastering “Hot Cross Buns” on the recorder, Eakin, who grew up in Alabama, played the trombone for a year upon moving to Knoxville and going to West Valley Middle School. He then attended an orchestra concert, where a newfound love for string instruments began, specifically a love for the violin.

“Music was more important to me than people,” Eakin said. “I dealt with a lot of friendship issues and bullying, but orchestra was the place where I could escape.

“Music was, and is, my safe haven, and I depend on music like I depend on air; music speaks to me on an emotional and psychological level.”

Eakin was approached by Mrs. Katie Alley for the opportunity to compose the music for Bearden’s production of Arabian Nights through recommendations from Pedro Lima and Bearden orchestra director Mrs. Cynthia Wright. Eakin’s score and his playing of that score will debut on opening night on April 21.

“Mrs. Alley did a show previously during her time at Bearden that featured a student composer, and it was very successful, so I think she really wanted to truly capture that excitement for Arabian Nights,” stage manager and Bearden junior Will Keziah said.

For Arabian Nights, Eakin is writing compositions for the entirety of the show on piano.  

“Every single sound, song, or ambience you hear is created by me,” Eakin said. “It’s really awesome.”

Previously, Eakin composed for a project for the SOSE (Senior Out-of-School Experience) program at Bearden. He composed a violin concerto which premiered at the Bearden Winter Orchestra Concert this year.

He also conducted the piece, which featured soloist Millie Runion. This, however, will be his first time composing for a full theatrical production.

“Since I am not a theatrical person, I sometimes have a hard time lining my music up with their lines and actions,” Eakin said. “In addition to that, composing for a two-hour show is pretty intense. I’ve composed a lot of music for this show so far.”

Additionally, this the first time many of the actors for the production have worked with a live composer and musician for all aspects of the show.

“Usually actors are [accustomed] to working with a pre-recorded form of audio for rehearsal,” Keziah said. “With the live composer and musician, they have to be able to adapt to what the composer decides to play, whether it’s a tune or something between lines; it can really present a challenge at times.”

Despite the challenges it presents, Eakin’s excitement to compose for the production is evident and unwavering.

“I will have a chance to get my name out within the community as a student composer which truly excites me to know that a lot of people will have the opportunity to hear my own original work,” Eakin said.

Eakin not only is a musician in school, but is a member of the KSYO (Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra) with whom he spends hours performing and practicing. He also dedicates much of his free time to practicing his music with private teachers perfecting his musicianship.  

Eakin plans to have a career composing and writing scores for films, and is attending college next fall at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville majoring in Music Composition and minoring in violin.

“Music, sincerely, is a necessity for me as a human being and drives me to do better, to be happier, and to understand people on an emotional level,” he said.