Master composers

An educational concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles will feature two compositions written by Andy Alden ’09 and Jack McFadden-Talbot ’09.
The two juniors began working with the Philharmonic last fall as part of the Young Composers Fellowship. The program featured four aspiring composers from Los Angeles county high schools, who would work with composer Steven Stucky as well as visiting composers at the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The concert is part of the Northrop Grumman Symphonies for Schools program at the Philharmonic. The program hosts monthly concerts for students ages 9-18.

The next concerts, to be held on Feb. 28 and 29, will be dedicated to Czech composer Antonin Dvorak. It will feature an actor talking as Dvorak as well as four different compositions written by student composers.

McFadden-Talbot and Alden were both asked to write one-minute pieces to be performed at the concert. The pieces will each showcase a different section of the Philharmonic and demonstrate an “American” style of composing, McFadden-Talbot said.

Alden’s piece is a one minute 21st century American scherzo, showing the influence of 20th century American music.

McFadden-Talbot wrote a piece for a wind quartet using only major or minor pentatonic (five note) scale.

“It was a challenge to be creative with such specific guidelines,” McFadden-Talbot said. “But as I continued to work, I found that the limited choices actually permitted me to be more creative.”

They will both introduce their pieces and talk about their inspirations.

Around 60 tickets were offered to the school, but due to the concert being during school hours only the upper and middle school orchestras will attend with their classes.

Throughout the year the four fellows have attended concerts at Walt Disney Hall, met with musicians and composers and attended weekly classes with Stucky as well as his teaching assistant A.J. McCaffrey.

After finishing a composition, the composing fellows also sit in on readings, where their music is played by Philharmonic musicians.

“The readings are a great opportunity to learn how your music works on the instruments you’re writing for and thus better your orchestration skills,” Alden  said.