LA Philharmonic performs 2 seniors’ compositions

By Jean Park

As toddlers, Andy Alden ’09 and Jack McFadden-Talbot ’09 played on toy keyboards and banged on small drums. Now, they are experienced musicians and composers whose compositions were played by the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall March 5 and 6.

The seniors participated in the two-year Composer Fellowship Program in which they received a chance to work with the Philharmonic’s Pulitzer-winning consulting composer, Steven Stucky. Working with Stucky helped them “find their own voice,” they said.

“The amount of work that went into this concert is kind of mind-blowing,” McFadden-Talbot said. “The most important thing I’ve learned is that if you want to do something well, really well, it takes a lot of hard work. That’s something I already knew, but this experience certainly reinforced that point for me.”

“The most important thing I learned is that a career in classical music isn’t quite as scary as I once thought it was, that it might actually be possible,” Alden said.

Although both seniors explained that writing music has its frustrating moments, such as writers’ block, that does not stop them from pursuing their musical aspirations.

They both try to expand their limits and when they finish a piece of music, they feel accomplished and thrilled.

At the end of the program, the composers’ final assignment was to create four-minute pieces inspired by the architecture of Disney Hall. McFadden-Talbot composed a piece titled “Urban Sea,” which represented two contrasting materials, whereas Alden, who composed “Life Forms,” tried to express a “blooming” progression.

McFadden uses “brass and metallic percussion to represent the harsh, metallic exterior and strings and woodwinds to represent the warm, ship-like, wooden interior.” He wanted to maximize the contrast between the types of music.

“I would envision the metallic wave-like shapes of the exterior of Walt Disney Concert Hall crashing in on and swallowing up the ship-like interior,” McFadden-Talbot explained.

Alden envisioned the Disney Hall as a “giant metallic rose.” He wanted to show the progression of the blooming process, throughout his piece.

He added, “I constructed much of my material out of the idea of two converging scales that form somewhat of a double-helix pattern similar to that of DNA.”

Orchestra conductor Mark Hilt took members of the Symphony, Fundamentals and Perspectives and AP Music Theory class to watch the performance on March 6.

“They played a piece by the Composer-in-Residence, Steven Stucky, the four Composition Fellows had their pieces played… I thought the entire concert was very well done,” Hilt said.