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Collaboration will provide wonderful musical moments

Students of composition and chamber music work with elementary school students

This year a new initiative provided beginning music composition students an opportunity to experience collaboration and real-life deadlines. Early in the fall semester students of Dr. Mandy Fang’s beginning composition class were offered the opportunity to compose arrangements for the St. Peter's Catholic School Christmas program.

"I am really grateful to Dr. Wendy Valerio and Dr. Rebecca Nagel for their kind support helping these young student composers," said Dr. Fang. "This is probably their very first commission as a composer, and the experience they have gained through this project is invaluable, which may influence the rest of their lives. I hope to continue this collaboration between my composition class and Dr. Valerio’s children’s music program for many years to come." 

Dr. Wendy Valerio and USC’s Children’s Music Development Center have been bringing music programs to St. Peter’s Catholic School through the School of Music’s community outreach initiative for 16 years. Currently, Dr. Valerio’s graduate students, Lauren King and Jordan Harper are the music education specialists at St. Peter’s Catholic School.

“Lauren, Jordan, and I are excited to be involved in this collaboration, and we are excited to introduce the St. Peter’s students to live chamber ensemble accompaniment and composers from USC. The St. Peter’s students will get to meet the student musicians and composers, learn about what it takes to be a performer and composer at the university level.” – Dr. Wendy Valerio.

Valerio met with each participating composition student individually after having shared the school program’s working repertoire earlier in the semester. Their assignment required the composition students to work within the deadlines and parameters of the program, writing original compositions and arrangements for the school’s full student body chorus.

The entire school of four through 12-year olds will be rehearsing the arrangements along with a USC chamber music ensemble from moo!@USC (music outreach organization), a student organization that strives to integrate music into the everyday lives of the community through interactive performances at schools and local venues.

St. Peter's music education specialists, Lauren King and Jordan Harper, both current USC students working towards a Master’s in Music Education, and USC student composers, Rachelle Armstead, Timothy Hall, Cameron Harvard, Brian Kinzie, Milton Lopez and Aubrey Nelson are putting the finishing touches on compositions for the program.

Student composer Timothy Hall said of the opportunity, “It has been exciting and challenging as a student composer to write/arrange music for the St. Peter's students and USC student performers. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a project that involves a diverse mix of children, college students and adults…It is inspiring, and there is more at stake when being a part of a project includes different groups and a wider audience.” 

St. Peter’s chorus and the ensemble made up of USC students Albert Carter, bassoon, Meredith Melvin, clarinet, Samantha Marshall, flute, and Trey Long, baritone, present the program on December 11 at 7:00 p.m. at St. Peter’s Catholic Church (1529 Assembly St., Columbia, SC). The program is free and open to the public.