Back in Decemeber, I completed Sparkling Spring for Mrs. Nancy Petrucelli and the Auten Road Intermediate School Advanced Orchestra. This piece was a chance for me to give back to the program that started me off on violin and to thank the first teacher who first encouraged me to compose. Writing a piece that was both age appropriate (Grade 2) and musically effective was one of the most challenging tasks I have taken on as a composer to this point. On top of writing something technically appropriate, I charged myself with the task of providing these young musicians with opportunities to grow in areas that more common literature may not cover–things like giving the violas the melody (!) or harmonic language based on suspensions and quartal/quintal chords. Writing this piece was truly a great opportunity for growth, but the experience of working with the kids was so much more worthwhile than just writing a piece.
When I showed up at the intermediate school for the ensemble’s last rehearsal before the concert, Mrs. Petrucelli offered me a school viola and asked me to jump into the orchestra. When she pointed to me between pieces and asked the students if they knew who I was, they were super excited and Mrs. Petrucelli opened the floor for questions. It was incredible to see young students excited about new music, but also about composing themselves. There were several students that asked questions about composing, including one who asked what my advice would be for a beginning composer. Writing a piece for the Hillsborough Strings Program was a wonderful and a fun experience, and I would recommend that every composer try his or her hand at educational music at least once.
Thank you again, Mrs. Petrucelli! Without your encouragement eleven years ago, I would not be where I am today as a composer or musician; for that, I am incredibly grateful!