Two juniors win LA Philharmonic fellowship

Two juniors have been chosen as part of a group of four high school student composers participating in the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s new Composer Fellowship Program. Andy Alden ’09 and Jack McFadden-Talbot ’09 will spend the next two years studying and playing with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Steven Stucky, guest composers, and musicians at the Philharmonic after school.

The Composers Fellowship Program is the first course designed by the Philharmonic that specifically targets high school composers.

“It’s the first time I’ve heard of a program like this,” Alden said. “I think a lot of symphony orchestras will follow suit.”

The Fellowship program hopes to “help young composers develop the necessary skills to achieve excellence in music composition,” said Karl Montevirgen, Young Musician Programs Manager for the Philharmonic.

In order to enter the competition, students had to fill in an application form and send in two sample pieces of their work.

One of the pieces had to be a preexisting score which represented their “compositional level to date” and another piece of newly composed music had to be written to specific guidelines.

Any high school student was eligible to apply, as long as they lived in Los Angeles County and participated in a school music program. Composers were expected to “be fairly accomplished in their compositional skills and musicianship,” according to Montevirgen “as well as demonstrate strong dedication to their compositional work.”

The Fellowship received 24 applications from high school students living in Los Angeles County.  Student composers were selected by a panel of judges led by Stucky.

Alden and McFadden-Talbot are both members of the Symphony Orchestra. Aside from composing, McFadden-Talbot was second chair of the first violin section in last year’s Symphony Orchestra, Alden was the orchestra pianist and played other percussion instruments.

Beginning in September, Alden and McFadden-Talbot will attend 10 group and 10 private composing lessons “with some of the greatest composers and musicians who work for or are guests of the LA Philharmonic,” Montevirgen said.

Alden said that he is most excited about the “exposure to new music and composers that I’m not very familiar with that I’ll get with this program.”

They will also listen to presentations on a variety of topics pertaining to musical composition, and have free access to select Philharmonic rehearsals and performances at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. At the end of the program a few of their original compositions will be played by members of the Philharmonic.

“I love the LA Phil because it’s never afraid to push the definition of what the musical experience is,” McFadden-Talbot said. For him, the Fellowship will be “a dream come true.”