L.A. Phil plays students’ music

The wood paneled walls of the Walt Disney Concert hall gleam with soft lights. Across the room, an organ dominates the wall, its long pipes reaching to the ceiling. On stage stand four teenagers, surrounded by the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra, basking in the memory of their original compositions played minutes ago.

Jack McFadden-Talbot ’09 and Andy Alden ’09 were two of the high school juniors chosen from the Los Angeles area to participate in the first Young Composers Fellowship. On Feb. 28 and 29, their compositions were played by the full orchestra as part of a concert series for children.
The concert, part of the Northrop Grumman Symphonies for Schools series, included a presentation of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony Number 9.

This concerto explored the development of the American music style.

At the end of the concerto, each of the four student composers had a piece played that exemplified a different facet of the music style.

The student compositions were played in between movements of Dvorak’s symphony and small skits of Dvorak’s life acted out by actors and singers. The scenes told the story of how Dvorak traveled to America from his native Prague and started working at the National Conservatory of Music.

From there he developed a distinct American style of music, incorporating the images of the “American dream” with the modern music that he heard on the streets of New York.

Although the main theme of American music was prevalent in all of the new compositions, each fellow had his or her own specific guidelines to compose their one- minute piece.

Alden, a percussion player in the Symphony Orchestra, worked primarily with the percussion section in order to compose a piece based on Henry Longfellow’s poem “Song of Hiawatha.”

McFadden-Talbot, the concert master of the Chamber Orchestra, played a piece based on a five-note scale that was meant to channel the American style of orchestral music.

He said that his love for music started when he was a young child and his mother brought him to listen to a concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Now McFadden-Talbot composes music as well as continuing to play both the violin and the trumpet.

 “Music runs through my head all day, every day,” McFadden-Talbot said.

When asked what their advice would be for young composers, Alden advocated trial and error.

“Never give up,” he said to the audience of young musicians. “Just keep trying and trying. Also, learn from your mistakes.”