Music teacher helped in the making of the Yerma score


The Magnet Tribune: Milton Hattem

Mariachi instructor Billy Thatcher helped create an original score for local performances of Yerma, in January.

Milton Hattem, Staff Writer

VMT music teacher Billy Thatcher helped compose a unique score for the play Yerma.

Thatcher was offered the job to compose the score for Yerma due to his prior work of composing scores for previous plays by director Marco Gonzalez.

Yerma tells the story of a childless woman living in rural Spain, and Her desperate desire for motherhood becomes an obsession that eventually drives her to commit a terrible crime.

The play was hosted by the Laredo Theater Guild at the Texas A&M International University Fine and Performing Arts Center from January 11-14 and 18-21.

We get to throw in our ideas as well and that’s something unique that you won’t hear anywhere in the world.”

— Billy Thatcher

Initially, Thatcher had turned down the offer due to what he described as his busy schedule, but then his friend and fellow musician Miguel Saito convinced him to work on it together.

”My friend said he wouldn’t do it without me … once I checked my schedule I’ll make some time for it,” Thatcher said.

After much consideration and many schedule changes, Thatcher said he agreed and began working on the score.

While in the process of composing the score, Thatcher and the others watched how the play went during rehearsals and what sort of music would go with the events going on in the play.

“There would be times where we would show up, and we had an idea in our heads already. Then we would see the scene and there we would say, ‘well, that isn’t going to match.”’

Initially, before viewing the play, Thatcher suggested the sole use of guitars, but after viewing how the play went the crew realized that just guitars simply won’t do.

So, they reached out to a friend of theirs, Israel Cruz, who has synthesizers and from there they saw more of how the play rolled out and constructed the music accordingly.

Once opening night came scenes in the play weren’t played out at an exact time every day; it all depended on the actors.

Thatcher and the rest of the composers were prepared for this, and he said, while directing the music live they had to adjust to the actors’ pacing of a scene.

“We had to watch the actors; sometimes they would be doing certain actions that would require more time, so we would add an extra two or four measures,” Thatcher said.

This meant that sometimes music in some scenes had to be cut a bit short or held out for a bit longer. They had to do it without making it abrupt, or too noticeable, to keep the audience immersed in the play.

“It was a great experience,” Thatcher said.

“We get to throw in our ideas as well and that’s something unique that you won’t hear anywhere in the world. It’s an experience that you can take with you for the rest of your life,” he said.

In reference to the way he viewed the experience, Thatcher added, “hopefully the audience can go out and support more of the arts.”