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Excerpts from the Winning Essays

Mike Lawson • Features • October 21, 2006

In our June issue, School Band and Orchestra announced the winners of the 2004 Scholarship Essay Contest. Each of the 10 winners – five in grades four through eight, and five in grades nine through 12 – received a $1,000 scholarship for writing an essay about their favorite composer. Each winning student’s music program received a matching prize of $1,000 in musical merchandise from the contest’s co-sponsors: Alfred Publishing Co., C.G. Conn, Yamaha Corporation of America, Avedis Zildjian Company, and Hershey’s Fundraising.

Included here are excerpts from the 10 winning student essays. The essays in their entirety are posted on SBO‘s Web site, www.sbomagazine.com. The 2005 Scholarship Essay Contest topic and deadline will be announced this fall in both the magazine and on the Web site.

Kurt Rever
Grade 12, Age 17
Pinkerton Academy
Derry, N.H.
Instrument: Percussion
Director: Leighanne Cullen
Favorite Composer: John Williams

“John Williams is my favorite composer because he has the exceptional ability to transmit feeling and emotion through his work. Like any great composer, he can blend extreme joy, excitement and anticipation with anxiousness, grief and sadness…The music of John Williams is inspiring and encourages imagination in everyone who listens. His music is all around us and has musically defined our generation.”

Erica Glenn
Grade 12, Age 17
Pleasant Grove High School
Pleasant Grove, Utah
Instrument: Piano
Director: Jim Wilcock
Favorite Composer: Clara Schumann

“In almost every aspect of her life, Clara Schumann challenged 19th-century gender barriers. However, Clara was also acutely aware of her feminine side…[Her compositions] seem to effortlessly combine a solid foundation and an almost ethereal beauty in a way that mirrors Clara’s own life. She was very practical by nature, but somehow when her fingers touched the piano keyboard, she was transported into a different realm, a world full of the beauty and perfection that her heart longed for.”

Noah Metz
Grade 12, Age 17
Henry M. Gunn High School
Palo Alto, Calif.
Instrument: Piano
Director: Todd Summers
Favorite Composer: Dave Brubeck

“With unprecedented style of unconventional rhythm or thick, rich chordal patterns, Brubeck ushered in a new age for piano, allowing it to bridge the gap between functioning as a rhythm and as a solo instrument. However, more important than the technical aspects of Brubeck’s accomplishments are how they actually sound…A legend of his time, Brubeck changed not merely the superficial sound of piano jazz, but its very heart – its rhythm.”

Alison De Roos
Grade 12, Age 18
Marian High School
Omaha, Neb.
Instrument: Violin
Director: Cathy Pruitt
Favorite Composer: Antonio Vivaldi

“[Vivaldi’s] works express stillness and fluidity, the intrinsic pulse of every living thing. When I feel stressed or happy, tired or energetic, pensive or impulsive, his music mirrors my emotions and echoes back the calmness in my soul… When I play or listen to Vivaldi’s compositions, my consciousness vibrates a connectedness with the world. The intuitive cadence of Vivaldi’s works reflect life’s ebb and flow.”

Pranoti Hiremath
Grade 9, Age 13
Garfield High School
Seattle, Wash.
Instrument: Violin
Director: Marcus Tsutakawa
Favorite Composer: Nicolo Paganini

“Everyone wears a mask covering their inner self so they can be a part of society. Paganini’s music does not have this mask. It is full of life unmarred: so unique, so in itself, so unafraid to stand out, so unfettered. It is like the sun bursting out from under the horizon, transforming everything it touches, and forever burning.”

Jurrell Curry
Grade 6 Age 11
Lincoln Middle School
Meriden, Conn.
Instrument: General Music
Director: Michael Cassella
Favorite Composer: Louie Ramirez

“I chose Louie Ramirez as my (favorite) composer. He writes jazz and salsa music…Ramirez was probably the most sought after and prolific arranger and producer during salsa’s “70’s boom years. The versatile Ramirez, who leads his own band, composes and plays the timbales, vibraphone and keyboard…”

Gabriella Sauza
Grade 7, Age 12
Lincoln Middle School
Meriden, Conn.
Instrument: Piano
Director: Michael Cassella
Favorite Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber

“[Andrew Lloyd Webber’s] talent is overwhelmingly profound. The dramatics and severity of his music are clearly felt deep within and are very moving. I can just close my eyes, listen to his music, and feel consumed by the greatness of the sound…His music is very enjoyable and contagious.”

Madeline Marshall
Grade 8, Age 13
Hayward High School
Hayward, Wis.
Instrument: Clarinet
Music Director: Quint Schultz
Favorite Composer: Eric Satie

“[Eric Satie’s] music is very sensitive and thoughtful, like he was contemplating an important issue while he was composing it. His music is also very calming, and I like to play pieces of his, like Gymnopedie, when I want to think… The rhythm of his music also flows nicely, creating the sensation of being on a calm lake.”

Jeralyn Westercamp
Grade 7, Age 12
Harding Middle School
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Instrument: Viola
Director: Ann Hauschildt
Favorite Composer: Antonin Dvorak

“As I have progressed as a violist, I have come to know the beauty of [Dvorak’s] works, such well known compositions as the “Symphony No. 9, ‘From the New World,’ ” as well as less popularized pieces that contain the same exuberance.”

Jennifer Shrandt
Grade 8, Age 14
Newtown Middle School
Newtown, Penn.
Instruments: Trumpet, Violin
Director: Keith Rudat
Favorite Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

“Beethoven composed some of his best music after he went deaf, even though he could no longer perform. The struggle and suffering Beethoven went through did not keep him from composing…Beethoven’s musical ability makes him a great musician. His strength and determination make him a great person.”

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