Breathing life into music: Young composer works open SummerFest |

Breathing life into music: Young composer works open SummerFest

Photo courtesy of Music in the Mountains


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Music in the Mountains kicks off its SummerFest season with 24 world premiers by the Young Composers Project Tuesday and June 14 at Peace Lutheran Church. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

When a composer works on a piece of music, most likely nowadays it is through the computer. Musical notation software such as Finale allows the composer to compose, arrange and listen to their scores as they are created. But as any composer will tell you, the moment a piece comes to life is when it is played by live musicians.

“Hurray for live music!” was a popular refrain last month when Musical Art Quintet sat down with the young composers program to read through works in progress. The Bay Area musicians, in town to kick off Music in the Mountains’ Musical Chairs series, were equally impressed with the student works.

“What an awesome program,” said Sascha Jacobson, the quintet’s bassist and a composer himself. “To find something of this caliber in a small community is really unusual.”

Young Composers Project teaches talented young Nevada County musicians, grades junior high through college, to study music software notation, melodic and rhythmic dictation, music theory and harmony, music history, conducting, public speaking and composition.

The June concerts are the culmination of the year’s studies, where talented local musicians bring the works to life.

“This is the second year I have participated in the YCP and am very much looking forward to collaborating with the composers during the rehearsals and performances,” said Franklyn D’Antonio, a Colfax native and the concertmaster of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra. “Last year’s works were most impressive, challenging and quite rewarding to play. The depth of musical maturity these will make for intriguing and satisfying evenings of new music from enthusiastic and passionate young minds.”

Mark Vance, MIM education coordinator and a renowned composer himself, leads the program with a little help from his friends. Toon Vandervoorst, the new assistant artistic director at InConcert Sierra jumped in this year to help teach the program, along with several local musicians who come to Saturday master classes to give the students a broad perspective.

“Many people come up and tell me this is their favorite concert of the year,” said Vance. “It’s definitely one of mine too.”

Tickets for SummerFest can be purchased online at, in person at the MIM office at 530 Searls Ave. in Nevada City, at BriarPatch Co-op or by calling the MIM box office at 530-265-6124. For free Moveable Fest events, see the MIM website, Twitter or Facebook for details.

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