May 1, 2000
by Deborah Stone
On May 9th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall in Benaroya Hall, Seattle Symphony musicians will perform chamber works written by eleven young composers, grades 7-12.
The performance is the culmination of a four-month-long workshop led by Samuel Jones, Seattle Symphony Composer-in-Residence. Jones is a prolific composer who served for eight years as a conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic and was a professor of composition at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, which he established as founding dean in 1973.
Students participating in this year's workshop were selected based on original scores submitted. Included in the group is fourteen-year-old Krystal Barghelame of Woodinville.
Krystal is an eighth grader at The Overlake School in Redmond who has been playing piano for the past five years. She began seriously composing two years ago and currently studies piano and composition with Sharon VavValin of Mercer Island.
"I actually started taking piano lessons when I was in second grade, because my brother and mother both played, and it seemed natural that I would also play," explains Barghelame. "I really didn't like it, because I wasn't excited about my teacher and I just wanted to do my own thing. I liked just sitting down and making up little tunes. I wasn't very serious about it. Later on, when I got another teacher, I became more interested in piano, and now I really enjoy it. It's such an expressive instrument, and when I compose, I get to express my feelings with the music."
Krystal had only written one full composition before entering the workshop, entitled "Nightmare in the City," which had won several awards in state and national contests. She describes it as a toccata, a loud and fast piece, very modernistic and dissonant.
With only one piece under her belt, Krystal didn't feel overly confident when she joined the Young Composers Workshop. She says, "I was pretty scared at the beginning, because everyone was so good in theory and had been composing for awhile. Also, I had only written for piano, and for this workshop, I had to compose a piece for other instruments. It was a big stretch for me and very difficult to do."
It took Krystal the full four months of the workshop to complete her composition and she had to handwrite the notes herself because she lacked the necessary software to do it on the computer. She worked daily on it, spending up to thirty minutes just to write one measure.
She says, "It was a challenge for me, but it became my personal goal and I knew I would feel so proud of my accomplishment when I finished."
Her composition is titled "Bats in the Belfry" and it is written for violin, viola, cello, and chimes. "I would play the notes I wanted to hear for each of the instruments, and I chose the strings to represent the screeching of the bats and the chimes as the bells," explains Krystal.
In preparation for the concert, each of the young composers meets with the musicians to explain to them how his/her music should be played. They attend a few rehearsals, and then on the night of the performance, they will be introduced by Samuel Jones, who will engage them in a discussion about their compositions just prior to the playing of each piece.
Krystal looks forward to her moment with much excitement. She says, "It will be so amazing to hear my music performed by such talented musicians. I can't wait!"
Although Krystal is unclear whether she plans to pursue music as a career, she knows that music will always be a part of her life. "I have learned so much in just a few months and I feel good that I was able to achieve my goal. It has given me a lot of confidence," she says.
The performance on May 9th is free and open to the public. General seating will begin thirty minutes prior to the show.