Virginia High School Orchestra will perform a composition written just for them – NBC4 Washington

When we think of orchestral music, we probably think of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart.

But some Fairfax County Orchestra students are only days away from a world premiere of music that is anything but classical.

The Mt. Vernon High School Orchestra will be the first to perform a composition written especially for them.

Earlier this year, director Alberto Rodriguez set out to find new music by a composer his students could relate to.

“It all started with this desire for my students to play music that was a little different from what they normally played…ideally trying to get the students to play music by someone who felt closer to them, as a person. of color, like maybe they’re used to seeing,” Rodriguez said.

A social media query in a Facebook group of music teachers led him to Selena Ryan, a 24-year-old songwriter and teacher in Phoenix, Arizona.

Rodriguez made his pitch. Ryan said yes, excited by the opportunity.

“His only request was that all students could play it, not just advanced ones, which was close to my heart,” Ryan said in a video interview.

Its composition is called FreeFall. Lively and fiery, it draws on elements of rock, pop and electronic dance music.

“I don’t think we’ve had a track that was, like, that happy…was inspired by so many musical styles, like EDM rock and pop. It’s really cool,” said second-year violist Godwin Mensah.

Ryan had two goals in his work. She wanted to compose a piece that would give all the instruments an interesting part. She also sees her work as an opportunity to address equity issues in her field. Ryan says she started performing when she was 5, but was 21 before performing a piece written by a female composer.

“I hopefully won’t be the first to shed some light on the fact that there is such inequality in music right now and the majority of people performing are all men from the past,” he said. said Ryan.

Senior violinist Christine Johnson is thrilled to have the chance to play the music of a composer who is a young woman.

“I don’t have the opportunity to play a lot of music by female composers. We usually get stuff from the educational music of Richard Meyer or Bach and Mozart, but getting something from a female composer is amazing,” Johnson said.

Mensah said even the composer’s age added some motivation to mastering the piece.

“It’s a special experience because on the one hand she’s super young, fresh out of college. For someone to be so talented, it kind of inspires me to go further in music. “, did he declare.

Students also recognize that they have a rare chance of being the first to perform a new composition.

“I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that won’t come, will probably never come again,” said junior cellist Eddy Suh.

The students embraced the sound, pointing to a part of the room where they pluck their strings.

“The first time I heard it, I ran to my parents and said, ‘You gotta listen to this, you gotta listen to this,'” Suh ​​recalled.

But Rodriquez says there’s more to this unique experience than music. It is about what is possible.

“I have students in my orchestra who might now have the chance to say, ‘Wait, there’s a seat for me at the table. There’s a place for me to compose music, to write music'”
Rodriquez said. “This project is so cool for our students and I think it promotes equity in so many ways. Commissions are expensive and I’m so grateful to Selena for working with us and allowing us to bring this to life. our dream.

And one of the greatest thrills is yet to come. Thanks to an anonymous donor, composer Selena Ryan will be able to fly to Fairfax County to see students perform her music.

The Mt. Vernon Orchestra will perform FreeFall at their Spring Concert on May 25 at 7 p.m.

About Raymond Lang

Check Also

Moonchild Sanelly achieves international stardom with Phases

When Universal Music Group launched new label Def Jam Africa in 2020 – set up …