Young composers show their talent

Young composers may hold the key to the future of classical music. Seventeen young composers from InConcert Sierra’s Composers Project with Mark Vance will present their original compositions from the first semester in Poetry in Song, March 20 in Grass Valley.

Poetry in Song features new creative works for voice and instrument using a poem of the composer’s choice set to music. ICS Director of Education, Composer, and Instructor Vance asks students to select a poem of their choice, analyze the text, and identify a natural musical rhythm that is set to music.

“(It’s) a lot harder than it looks,” Vance said.

In January, the students had the opportunity to meet via Zoom Kory Reid, singer of the famous male choir Chanticleer. “They are brilliant students, really, so smart and full of passion for songwriting,” Reid said. “They impressed me with deep questions.”

All the pieces were composed by young locals, aged 14 to 18. Selected poetry includes works by Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, EE Cummings, CK Williams, Edgar Albert Guest and others.

Completed works will be performed by accomplished singers (Beth Gillogy, Rebekah Freeman, Robbie Merchant, Janet Rossman, Alison Skinner, Toby Thomas-Rose, Jamie Tomas-Rose, Stan Thomas-Rose and Erin Thomas-Rose) and professional musicians ( James May, guitar; Elizabeth McAllister, clarinet; Sage Po, harp; Ken Hardin and Lynn Schugren, piano; including student composer Egan Rogers on bass).

A delightful surprise for many will be hearing Alison Skinner, Musical Director and Conductor of InConcert Sierra’s Sierra Master Chorale.

The Composers Project is a nine-month program that explores all aspects of composition, including music theory, notation, finding inspiration, music history, writing for instrument families and public speaking. Students meet and work with guest musicians, artists and composers.

Reid commented on Mark Vance’s tutelage, “…an amazing program. You (Mark) are a wonderful light to these students. What an incredible opportunity for them.

The concert will be held at the Peace Lutheran Church, 828 West Main St. in Grass Valley, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20. InConcert Sierra’s COVID-19 audience restrictions include a vaccinated-only attendance policy with mandatory masks indoors.

InConcert Sierra is a Nevada County non-profit organization that showcases classical music stars of today’s international scene, as well as emerging young artists and local and regional professional musicians. Its robust Bach to the Future music education offerings provide immersive experiences for all ages. Founded in 1946, ICS celebrates 75 years as an integral part of the Nevada County arts community.

For more information, visit or dial (530) 273-3990.

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