“Our Royal Pride” is an occasional series celebrating Eastern Mennonite University’s undergraduate students who contribute to campus life in extraordinary ways in addition to their academic pursuits. These students enthusiastically create their own niches, constantly re-defining what it means to be an EMU Royal student “Like No Other.” Read more profiles here. Nominate a student with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Imagine the world
Holding it all
Containing the depths
And skies tall
Small spaces unhinged
Winding our way
Close your eyes
It all will repeat
This poem, Worlds, is more than just a tapestry of evocative words to author Luke Mullet, a sophomore at Eastern Mennonite University. It is also the inspiration for a corresponding musical composition. While the math major’s poems are esoteric, sometimes cryptic, his compositions are directly emotional, reminiscent of epic movie scores flavored with a Celtic-Tibetan fusion. He has composed electronic music for five years, but his style has recently shifted towards cinematic songs. He uses synthesizers of choirs, orchestras and other ethnic instruments to “create musical imagery and worlds of sound,” he explains.
“I just let everything that I’m holding go, and free flow with the words that come into my mind,” says Mullet. “I would write a poem, read the poem, then compose music.” He is now in an independent study with professor and composer Ryan Keebaugh, which has become as much collaboration as instruction.
Keebaugh commissioned Mullet to compose six poems. These have become part of Keebaugh’s new composition written for the Seen/Heard Trio, an American contemporary music trio of a flutist, harpist, and mezzo-soprano singer. The work, titled The Book of Hours, “will alter the layout, structure, and listening experience of what we term as a “concert” setting,” explains Keebaugh. “The six hour work will include Luke’s poems, one for every hour.” The composition premiers this fall in Iowa, with performances to follow in New Mexico and Richmond, Virginia.
Mullet, who also sings in the choir Emulate, is nothing if not well-rounded. His activities range from the right-brained arts to weight lifting to left-brained math to philosophy.
“What makes me, me? I think it’s a reflection of all of these things as a whole,” he says.
“He’s quite the Renaissance man,” says Keebaugh.
Mullet has also been helping professor Daniel Showalter to edit a peer-reviewed article about mathematical selection bias in statistics, and create an answer key for a high school math textbook. Like many musically-minded people, Mullet has always a knack for math, but is now interested in the more abstract facets of the field. His enjoyment of proof-based math, which deals more with logic than calculations, has led him to take several philosophy courses.
He is one of several students who are trying to revitalize the math club, and is a senator in the Student Government Association. After all these intellectual, sedentary pursuits, Mullet turns to weight lifting for fitness and focus.
“It’s just a great outlet that’s different from math, music, philosophy, and anything else that I’m engaged with,” says Mullet. “It’s kind of a way to be mindful, or be more engaged with your body.”
Last spring, he helped sophomore Matt Holden start the Royals Lifting Club, which disseminates weight lifting information, promotes camaraderie and inclusiveness and meets in the fitness center for lifting competitions. Between 20 and 30 people attend their events.
What’s next? After applying for math internships and assisting the Weather Vane with their year-in-review extended issue, Mullet will spend a week at EMU’s Student Kairos Place, a mountain retreat for undergraduate writers and artists. There, he will immerse himself in a poetry and composition project.
Says Mullet, “I’ve found music to become a really valuable part of who I am.”