Champlain Philharmonic Premieres "Surviving Soul" by Leslie Bixby

CPO Poster for website

Leslie Bixby began writing music with Music-COMP when she was in ninth grade. Now a senior, she is about to graduate from Black River High School in Ludlow VT and recently had a new work premiered by the Champlain Philharmonic Orchestra. Under the direction of guest conductor Dr. Yutaka Kono, the CPO presented its spring concert "Storytellers" on Sunday, May 8 in Ackley Hall at Green Mountain College and Sunday, May 15 at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury. The concert featured works by Rossini, Saint Saëns, Ravel, Bizet, and Leslie's new composition Surviving Soul. Listen to the May 15 performance below.

Leslie says: “My dream is to become a composer and music therapist.  I want to create a change. When people are with me I want them to leave feeling confident while knowing that I have helped. I want to help those who are going through the same experience I have gone through, whether it is being adopted, or maybe going through depression, self-harm, or an eating disorder. I want them to know that music is something you can always go to and it will always be by your side. I have learned to express myself through music and I wish to teach many others to do the same." Leslie will be attending Plymouth State University this fall for music education.


Leslie Bixby - Surviving Soul

Leslie has written other pieces that have been selected for performance at Opus 29 and 30. Listen to Nola and Vermont Magic.

Leslie Bixby

VSO premiers "Tempesta" by Colin Desch

Colin Desch is a ninth grader at Montpelier High School and plays cello in his school orchestra. ColinVSO Jaime 450wAt a recent Montpelier concert, Colin wasn't performing, but instead was a featured composer with a new work premiered by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. The standing-room-only crowd applauded Colin's new work enthusiastically. Listen to the recording below.

The David M. Wilson Memorial Farmers' Night concert is a cherished tradition and a fan favorite. In this free concert held in the Vermont State House each January, the VSO, under the direction of Jaime Laredo, performs for an audience of community members, legislators, and government officials. The event was held on January 27, 2016. Music-COMP selects one student composer to write for this event each year. Student composers connect with professional composer mentors for feedback on their work-in-progress and receive support for live performances.

After the premier, Colin wrote, "The experience was very exciting. It was very interesting and helpful to be mentored by Matt [LaRocca] and learn the ins and outs of my own piece. The best part of the whole thing was probably when I got to hear the VSO play the piece for the first time and hearing the difference between a computer and the real thing. I didn't expect it to be such a hit with everybody but I guess that's the way it turned out. It was a real experience."ColinVSO smileaudience cropped 250w

NEW - Tempesta audio recording


Listen to Colin's work for Opus 28, Midnight Ride and

Frosty Tango for Opus 30.

Thanks to Jeb Wallace-Brodeur and the Times/Argus for these photos.

Summer Student Workshop - Writing for VSO SymphonyKids Trio

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In July 2015, Music-COMP students signed up for an intense week of composition with Erik Nielsen, Senior Composer Mentor with Music-COMP. This summer the focus was on writing for the VSO woodwind trio called Raising Cane. Throughout the week students examined the clarinet, oboe, and bassoon in depth and composed for the trio.

Thanks to the VSO SymphonyKids educational program for providing the woodwind trio for a reading and performance session. Thanks also to Burlington High School for the workshop space.

Below are the four recordings from that session. You can hear more about the workshop week with student interviews and comments by Erik Nielsen at the Vermont Public Radio Classical's Student Composer Showcase aired in January 2016 titled, 1 Week to a Trio .


Raising Cane announced that Doo-Wop by Ethan Duncan was selected to add a “catchy” touch to their school program. Congratulations Ethan! Look for local school performances by Raising Cane this spring.
Recordings below -

Rising by Jacob Dennison, eleventh grader, Troy, VT

Doo-Wop by Ethan Duncan, ninth grader, Williston, VT

Trio by Davis Holt, tenth grader, Shelburne, VT

Woodwind Trio in Three Movements by Anna Halladay, ninth grader, Burlington VT

Read more about last summer at the registration page here. Summer July 25-29, 2016 Registration open now.

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At Music-COMP, we bring our student's music to life...

Thoughts from Nadia Scoppettone, Wayne Alexander, Kaleigh Goulet-McCarthy, Rachel Schwartz, Erin Magill, Malayna Johnson and Eileen Kocherlakota. Music by Ethan Duncan.


As a student of Music-COMP, why do you write music?

Thoughts and music from Saigelyn Green and Jonathan DeRoehn
North Country Union High School

Ethan Duncan World Premier with the VSO

NEW - audio recording from the VSO Farmer's Night Concert

Ethan Duncan joined Music-COMP as an Independent Study student last year in seventh grade. Now an experienced student composer of 12 years of age, he's achieved something quite extraordinary. Jaime Laredo, music director of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, led a small ensemble of strings and woodwinds in a world premier of Ethan's new work titled A Year in Vermont. The work was included in the David. M. Wilson Memorial Farmer's Night concert at the State House on January 21, 2015.

The Times/Argus featured Ethan and Maestro Laredo, on their front page with the title, His Mark on the World. Thanks to Jeb Wallace-Brodeur and the Times/Argus for this photo.

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Ethan described A Year in Vermont for string and wind ensemble:"The four sections of the piece are meant to represent the four seasons we see and experience in my home state."

Recently Ethan reflected on the experience, "I found that the VSO Farmer's Night event was a fantastic way to spread the word about my composition and the Music-COMP program. Erik Nielsen was very helpful to my piece because, honestly, I really need it to be heard by someone else before it's performed because normally, you hear what you want to hear and there are mistakes that I don't catch that mentors, and their experienced ears, do. I would recommend this event in the future to anyone who would like a chance to further their composition careers because it's public and people really appreciate the music."

Eileen Kocherlakota and the Vermont Philharmonic

Audio recording of Hidden Mountains from a performance by the Vermont Philharmonic on Sunday, March 15, 2015 in their "Espana" Annual Family Concert at the Barre Opera House.

Eileen Kocherlakota has been composing music since she was nine years old. She started composing with Music-COMP and found she enjoyed this new world that was so different from performing. She likes being on the other side of the score, creating melodies, harmonies, and experimenting with the different tones and timbres of the variety of instruments. Eileen has composed for many different combinations of instruments, including string quartet, voice, and full orchestra. She likes the challenge that writing for different types of iEileen LouKosma croppedwide400nstruments presents. Eileen has recently had pieces played by the Burlington Ensemble, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Green Mountain Youth Symphony and through Music-COMP. Throughout her entire composing experience, Eileen has been guided and mentored by composer Erik Nielsen and other Music-COMP mentors. She has also been supported by her family, teachers, and Music-COMP. Eileen is an 18 year old senior at Burlington High School. Outside of composing, Eileen enjoys reading, mathematics, and listening to music.

Hidden Mountains: The concept of mountains being hidden sounds preposterous, and yet it is the idea around which the piece was formed. In the first section of the piece, the mountains are shrouded in fog, and all that can be seen are small glimpses of the peaks. When the piece then switches from minor to major, the sun burns away the fog, and the mountains appear; glorious, beautiful, and majestic. The piece then transitions back to minor, heralding the return of the fog, and obscuring the mountains from all. They are once again a mystery. The piece strives to be both mysterious and hopeful, haunting and joyous, as it illustrates an idea that is at times real, and at others, a dream. All the instruments take part in helping to bring this concept to life, sharing the melody between them, and giving the mountains that spring to life the unpredictability that comes from being hidden.

Hidden Mountains was "commissioned" by the Green Mountain Youth Symphony orchestra under the direction of Bob Blais for it's April 2014 concert featuring women composers. Thanks to the Vermont Philharmonic and director, Lou Kosma, for this collaboration with Music-COMP. Thanks also to Michael Read, president of the Board of Directors, and Edie Miller for publicity.

Alumni Feature

We celebrate the past and current achievements of 25 of our alumni. pic alumni bookThe impetus to reflect with them came as we prepared for Opus 25 held on January 7, 2013. Read their thoughts on participating in Music-COMP, find out what each is doing now, and hear some of their early works.

Periodically, we'll highlight one or two of our alumni. August's Vermont Public Radio Student Showcase Alumni Feature highlighted Matt Podd. We've included Matt's 25for25 alumni page below as well as his twin brother Adam who is also mentioned in the broadcast.

Link to the Vermont Public Radio Classical's feature.

Matt's alumni page and early recordings.

Adam's alumni page and early recordings.

Link to the full publication featuring all 25 alumni or click image.

Featured Alumni and Hometowns:

Alan Beaudry Derby VT
Eve Boltax Montpelier VT
Leon Campos Greensboro VT
Eli Chalmers Montpelier VT
Hannah Chambers Derby Line VT
Nicolas Chlebak Springfield VT
Bob Couture Westfield VT
Andy Gagnon Hardwick VT
Colin Gliech Burlington VT
Benji Goldsmith New York NY
Josh Clinger Lowell VT
Christina Koller Bridport VT
Mavis McNeil Greensboro VT
Joshua Morris St. Albans VT
Morgan Moscati Falls Church VA
Holly Mugford Randolph VT
Adam Podd Newport VT
Matt Podd Newport VT
Kyle Quirion Holland VT
Sam Schiavone Greensboro VT
Moxie Schults Norwich VT
Zach Sheets Norwich VT
Rachael Sherman Montpelier VT
Emily Vigne Monkton VT
Sylvia Woodmansee Westfield VT

Seven Days Article

A March 26, 2013 article in Seven Days, Vermont's Independent Voice, pointed out national statistics that males dominate the music composition scene. Vermont's Female Composers Slowly Gain Ground in a Predominately Male Field author, Amy Lilly, interviewed student composer Cecelia Daigle from Moretown as well as other Music-COMP connected individuals: Executive Director, Sandi MacLeod; Senior Mentor, Erik Nielsen; composer mentors Peggy Madden and Sara Doncaster. Read the full article here.