Young Steamboat Springs musicians offered new opportunity to create | SteamboatToday.com

Young Steamboat Springs musicians offered new opportunity to create

Musicians Bonnie Murray, Elise Barbier, Anna Dean, Christel Houston, Annie Meyer, Jack Walsh, Laurie Edwards, Elizabeth Danielson and Bruce Dean take their bows at the inaugural Piano and Student Composers Concert at Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs.

— "When you hear and play enough music, you kind of hear the notes in your head," said 12-year-old Steamboat Springs pianist Jack Walsh.

Transferring those melodies to the piano and then to paper could be a more challenging feat but not for Walsh, who was one of four student composers selected by local music teacher Christel Houston to perform original compositions at the Piano and Student Composer Concert, held April 20 at Bud Werner Memorial Library. Other student composers were Anna Dean and Elise Barbier, both 14, and Jerod Clark, 17.

Piano and Student Composers Concert

Piano performers and their pieces:

Annie Meyer: Brahms Theme and Variations Op. 56b

Anna Dean: "Old Adam" Two Step by William Bolcom

Elise Barbier: Mozart Concerto in D Minor K. 466

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Anna Dean, Elise Barbier, Laurie Edwards and Christel Houston: “Sonata in E Minor” for Two Pianos, “Eight Hands: by Bedrich Smetana

Original compositions:

Jack Walsh: Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1 for violin, cello and piano

Anna Dean: "Infatuation" for cello and piano

Elise Barbier: "Prelude" for viola, cello and piano

Jerod Clark: "Clark's Reel" for violin, cello and piano

The April 20 event was the first original student composition concert for Houston and her students, and it also featured the first-ever student piano concerto concert with two pianos.

Not only did the students have a chance to compose their own piece, but they also had the opportunity to work with professional musicians, Elizabeth Danielson on the violin, Bonnie Murray on the violin and viola and Bruce Dean on the cello, who were asked by Houston to help promote student music composition in Steamboat.

Houston selected Walsh, Dean, Barbier and Clark to create their own compositions because of their improvisational interests and general musical creativity. The students developed ideas for their pieces in December and finished them by the end of January. By February, they had to write out parts for the featured instruments, including the transpositions and score, to be rehearsed with the professional musicians in March.

"I have a passion for promoting original works," Houston said. "I know that the future lifeblood of the music world lies in those who are students now, and if they don't get a chance to try out composing, how will they ever know if they can?"

Creating the original compositions was a learning experience, and for Walsh, the hardest part was transferring the music to a score with the violin and cello pieces included. But with Houston's teaching, Walsh said reading and writing music like this has ignited his passion for music.

In addition to performing a piece in the Student Composer Concert, Walsh was selected as one of the five 2017 Summit Music and Arts Young Composers Competition winners.

"She really is an incredible teacher," Walsh said. "She'll ask you what is this note or something like that to not just tell you things but rather exercise your skills and help you understand it better."

As a 6-year-old, Houston was teaching the kids in her neighborhood in a garage "classroom." Fast forward a few years, and Houston is still known as the "neighborhood" teacher. She has been teaching music and voice in Steamboat Springs since 1992.

"I love everything about teaching," said Houston. "I really like that light-bulb moment teachers get to see, and in my case, hear. As a music teacher, I look for that spark of creativity and use it as the instigator for teaching the rest of music theory to get their composition down on paper.

“These students have that spark,” Houston explained. “I like to have them start when they're young, before the world tries to tell them they can't do it."

To reach Audrey Dwyer, call 970-871-4229, email adwyer@steamboattoday.com or follow her on Twitter @Audrey_Dwyer1

Piano and Student Composers Concert

Piano performers and their pieces:

Annie Meyer: Brahms Theme and Variations Op. 56b

Anna Dean: “Old Adam” Two Step by William Bolcom

Elise Barbier: Mozart Concerto in D Minor K. 466

Anna Dean, Elise Barbier, Laurie Edwards and Christel Houston: “Sonata in E Minor” for Two Pianos, “Eight Hands: by Bedrich Smetana

Original compositions:

Jack Walsh: Piano Trio in C Minor, Op. 1 for violin, cello and piano

Anna Dean: “Infatuation” for cello and piano

Elise Barbier: “Prelude” for viola, cello and piano

Jerod Clark: “Clark’s Reel” for violin, cello and piano