Host Sara Schneider sat down with two of the composers whose music will be performed during Golden Hornet's 2nd Annual Young Composers Concert: Maya Albiter Arroyo, a junior at East Austin College Prep; and Noah Simon, a senior at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy. You can find more details about the concert below.
How long has classical music been a part of your life, and when did you know you wanted to be a composer?
Maya: Classical music has been in my life since the sixth grade. This year was when I got really involved in it. I wrote my first piece last year when Pale Blue, a wind ensemble at UT played a piece that I did with a group of friends at my school.
Noah: I started playing the piano in kindergarten. But I didn't really enjoy classical music a lot until probably late middle school. My parents dragged me to hear the Miro Quartet, and I heard one of Beethoven's string quartets, and I really loved it. I wrote my first piece in junior year of high school, actually for last year's version of this concert.
And how did it feel, sitting in the audience and hearing your own music performed?
Maya: It was pretty crazy, because it gives you flashbacks of the struggle, all the fun times, but also the horrible times. And it's amazing to hear people clapping for something you did. It's a great feeling to have.
And did it sound just as you imagined it?
Maya: It sounded like actually more than what I imagined. When I hear this piece I think, 'Who wrote this?' It's unbelievable sometimes.
For the Golden Hornet Young Composer's Concert, did you submit a piece you'd already written, or write something 'on demand'?
Maya: It was written on demand. They gave us instructions, like the length, and the instruments. My piece is written for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano.
Noah: The group that's performing our music, Hear No Evil, has flute, violin, clarinet, cello, piano, and percussion. And we had the option to write for any combination of them. My piece is for all six instruments.
How do you tackle the task of writing for an instrument you don't personally play?
Noah: You just do it, and then you show it to somebody, and they're like, 'No, you've gotta change that.'
And so mentoring has been a big process with the student composer concerts. We turned in our first drafts in December, and I compiled a big list of Austin-based composers we could work with. We actually worked with the same composer- Dr. Hermes Camacho.
Tell me the titles of your pieces, the style, and who influenced your writing.
Maya: Mine is called Dark Dance. It's very mysterious, and has unexpected parts. I really wanted to do a tango, a continuation of the piece I did with my friends last year. The style is influenced by my mentor, Dr. Hermes [Camacho].
Noah: In this piece, I took a little rhythm from a Bach fugue, and put it into an octatonic scale. And then I tried to write counterpoint to it, but, I haven't gone to college [laughs] so I haven't really learned about any of that stuff. So it's like this weird mess of atonal stuff with funny rhythmic counterpoints. There are a lot of quotes in it. I put a Debussy quote in there, and a Gershwin quote, and the last part has a bunch of stuff that I made out of tone rows. I told Dr. Camacho that it was twelve-tone music, but he said that it wasn't. So I can only say it was influenced by twelve-tone music. It's called Mouse.
What are your plans for the future, and how does music fit into those plans?
Maya: Music opened doors for me to get out there, both personally and musically speaking. For my future plans I want to continue to do programs that influence me as a violinist or a composer. Like this summer I have about three musical programs I'm going to, that I hope will help me to continue to do these things that I like. As for college, probably ACC for starters and then somewhere bigger, probably UT. I want to do something in education, or maybe social work.
Noah: I want to double major in composition and physics. I'll probably go to UT.
Do you have any other thoughts you'd like to share on composing, or your process?
Maya: I think it's never too early to be a composer, because it's really amazing how it makes you think and feel during the process. It's great how you can show feeling or tell a story by writing a piece of music. I have a lot in my head, the problem is, how to put it down [on paper]. And that's where our mentor came in. Sometimes I would get very frustrated and want to quit, but then I would get two or three measures that were just perfect, and it was all worth it.
Noah: I've never had the experience of writing something and looking at it, going “That's perfect, I love it.” When I compose, I feel like I'm feeling around the walls of a dark room. I have no idea what's going on or how people are going to respond to it. But I guess that's what it's about. I'll probably learn more.
Do you listen to KMFA?
Noah: If I'm ever up really late at night, I love 'Workbench'. It's so eclectic.
Maya: Whenever I do homework I turn it on, and discover new pieces. At school we do a lot of Bach or Mozart, but I like to learn about different composers.
WHO: Golden Hornet Composer Laboratory
WHAT: Second Annual Young Composers Concert
WHERE: The North Door, 501 Brushy St., Austin TX
WHEN: Sunday, March 26th, 2017 at 2pm
PERFORMED BY: Hear No Evil Ensemble
HOSTED BY: Peter Stopschinski and Graham Reynolds
COMPOSITIONS BY: Noah Simon, Draylen Mason, Sarah Jackson, Ayden Machajewski, Cole Gleason, Anton von Sehrwald, Maya Arroyo, Tiffany Hoxie, Ian Shaw, Cassidy Pena, Dylan Monahan, Radian Davishines
PRODUCED BY: Graham Reynolds, Noah Simon, David Lobel, Cassie Shankman
HOW MUCH: Free, with a suggested donation of $10