April 24, 2018

Composer in Residence

The Composer in Residence program, started in 2016, was designed to further stimulate an active interest in musical composition and performance. Orchestra students experience the inner workings of music creation as they collaborate with a composer to create a unique musical work for our ensemble. Unlike the traditional experience in middle school orchestra programs across the country, where students simply read notes that are pre-printed on a page by some long dead or current business oriented formulaic composers, our students have a say in what they get to play. They get to pick the notes, rhythms, sounds, words, instrumentation, and anything else they conjure in their imagination.

Our Composer in Residence

The Viper with banjo-uke.

Dr. Ryan Jerving, aka “The Viper,” joins the orchestra every year at the final concert with original music arranged specifically for us. He also joins us for three full days of composition workshops. One of the objectives of The Viper is for students to learn music in a more natural kind of way. That is, for students to learn the music by gathering in a circle and teaching each other the parts by ear. This process of “learning by ear” is actually more widely used in most musical traditions – which is contrary to the way most students in orchestra learn.

Here are a couple videos of The Viper workshopping with 6th grade cellists and violists in “Just That Good.” It might be a bit rough as it the first time they’re putting things together: melody, harmonies, and even some singing! But, at least, it gives you idea.

And here’s a short clip of The Viper on jug trading solos with our bass players on washtub basses.



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