Bearden senior composes, performs original score to accompany ‘Metamorphoses’


Maddux Morse

Bearden senior Eli Atkin watches, as director Ms. Katie Alley works with her students. Atkin has taken much of his inspiration for his original score for “Metamorphoses” by carefully observing the actors’ performances.

The Bearden High School spring play Metamorphoses will be accompanied by an original live score composed by and performed by senior Eli Atkin, who plays the piano, trombone, and other instruments alongside his compositions.

After a recommendation from band director Mr. Jamie Wilson, Atkin was thrilled to begin his work for this full score, which includes a running time of around 115 minutes, including the soundtrack that prefaces the play.

“Eli’s work elevated the play in a way that can only be fully understood by witnessing it,” said Metamorphoses director Ms. Katie Alley, who originally approached the band directors for a student who would be interested.

Atkin has been composing since 7th grade and is hoping to continue his work through college with a degree in composition and theory. Although he has been interested in composing since middle school, Atkin realized in his freshman or sophomore years that composing was his passion. He is looking to pursue a career in film scoring after college at the University of Tennessee.

The experience of working on the Bearden musical this year followed Atkin’s work on the Pellissippi production of “Love and Information,” which he recently won a Kennedy Center regional award for.

Some of Atkin’s inspiration comes from his favorite composers and film scorers – including Hans Zimmer and John Williams – but he also takes inspiration from other musical and theatrical influences.

“Much of my inspiration comes from the classical music that I listen to and enjoy,” Atkin said. “And my composition style comes from a mix of classical and contemporary sounds.”

The theme and style of Metamorphoses is also unique because of Atkin’s composition and the depth that his musical score adds to the performance of the talented Bearden actors.

“A mixture of different sounds is what gives Metamorphoses its unique style,” Atkin said. “There is a mysterious intent, though there is always an answer when a question is posed.” 

When composing, Atkin uses an unconventional method to brainstorm and write. He has been able to sit in on rehearsals and observe the cast as they learn the play. Through watching the actors perform and being present through their learning experience, Atkin is able to capture the true essence of the stories and evoke the feeling of what the scene is, and what the actors are conveying emotionally.

“Most of my inspiration honestly comes from watching the actors perform,” he said. “It’s not really any particular musical thing. They are my muse. I’ve just been writing as I’m watching them perform. 

“Sort of doing it in the moment and feeling the way it feels when it’s on stage.”

Composers often face certain struggles through the creative process, but Atkin has not faced issues regarding inspiration when composing for Metamorphoses. 

“The only struggle has been communication with actors and making sure everything lines up because it’s constantly changing,” he said.

This communication is essential to the success of the play between the cast, the director, and the other musicians, and Atkin will be conducting six other musicians during the musical to add depth and support the acting.

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity,” he said. “I really think it will help me build my repertoire for future jobs and opportunities, and it has just been so wonderful to work with theater.

“They are all just so dedicated to the craft and without them it would have been a much more difficult process.”

Metamorphoses is showing April 21-April 24, and ticket purchases ( are limited due to seating being on stage.