Twenty local fourth-grade composers listened as FAME Festival composer-in-residence and conductor David Crowe explained how he crafted their individual music into “Twelve Chinese Animals.”
One piece “had this flowing horse mane that I liked,” he said.
Of another, he said, “It’s a nice little playful dog and then it gets kid of growly at the end.”
Some of the student composers said they envisioned certain animals as they wrote. Others were surprised at how their works fit into the work presenting the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.
The original composition was performed on the closing afternoon of the FAME Festival, accompanied by youth ballet and philharmonic groups. The Foundation for Art and Music in Education held its 30th annual celebration March 18 and 19 at the Grand Wayne Center in Fort Wayne. Crowe spoke with the young composers at a final composium the morning of March 18.
“The first time we met was way back in October and you were probably wondering what the project was going to be about,” he said. “We started literally with nothing and this weekend we’re going to have orchestra and ballet and tai chi movement, and the music all started with you.
“I’m happy to say that all 20 composers got their signature into the piece in one form or another and it represents one of the animals,” he said.
Four Northwest Allen County Schools fourth-graders participated in the project.
Haley Elementary School music teacher Wendy Bloom, who served as project coordinator, said Crowe and the students began the project in October. “First they explored music compositions using instruments and even something as simple as a piece of paper,” she said. “And then they went to the computers and they composed what we like to call their musical signature compositions where they take their name and using a key and a sort of a name like approach they create a musical composition, rather short, that includes the musical notes that are in the letters of their name. And then they work with Mr. Crowe and he actually goes through everybody’s musical signature composition in a composium. Then the director of the Fort Wayne Youth Ballet dancers comes and they explore dance movements … Then Mr. Crowe goes back to his home in Connecticut and he finishes the composition and he weaves all of these kids’ compositions right into it.”
She told student composers that Crowe did a fantastic job of composing the the work. “I want you to realize how this is so fabulous of an experience for a fourth-grade kid to hear the music as they they composed it out of their heart …
“Get ready because your heart is gong to be stirred.”
Sydney Potter from Deer Ridge Elementary School recognized her music during the opening segment — the horse. She said she tried to use as many quarter notes as possible. She had expected the music to be used for the horse, or rooster or sheep.
Olivia Knipscheer of Whispering Meadows Elementary School heard her music with the ox segment; she had been hoping for the tiger.
Erin Hamlin of Haley Elementary School was not surprised to hear her music during the dog segment.
Sienna Galloway of Haley Elementary was happy with her music. “I think I did a good job because I kept messing with it,” she said.
Reagan Danzter of Towles Montessori Elementary recognized her music. “I kind of made it a little bit skitterish so I would skip a couple of lines and I would start playing music again, so I’m not really surprised that it was the rat but I didn’t really expect it.”
Evan Hassell from Hickory Center Elementary School heard his music in the opening horse segment in which Crowe pictured a flowing main. That’s how Evan had pictured it, too.
“I had more of a slow piece and then I decided to make it go faster, and every night I would work on it for maybe a half-hour on the computer and eventually I got it done and I played it a few times to make sure that I liked it, and I did,” he said.
He said he was pleased to be among the 20 students who were chosen to participate. He also said he would build on the experience. “I think it could help me compose a song if I want to when I get older and it could help my playing, too,” he said.
2016-17 FAME-OUS COMPOSERS
Mia Broadnax, Weisser Park Elementary School, FWCS
Martin Carapia, Fairfield Elementary School, FWCS
Joshua Cromwell, Weisser Park Elementary School, FWCS
Reagan Danzter, Towles Montessori Elementary School, FWCS
Ella Edwards, South Side Elementary School, Concord
Samuel Ellenwood, Haley Elementary School, FWCS
Sienna Galloway, Haley Elementary School, FWCS
Bryn Godt, Whispering Meadows Elementary School, SACS
Erin Hamlin, Haley Elementary School, FWCS
Evan Hassell, Hickory Center Elementary School, NACS
Evan Holt, Hickory Center Elementary School, NACS
Keyton Kenny, Arlington Elementary School, FWCS
Olivia Knipscheer, Whispering Meadows Elementary School, SACS
Reese Loshe, Wyneken Memorial Lutheran School, Decatur
Kieran Niska, Eel River Elementary School, NACS
Pamela Nonnamacher, Haley Elementary School, FWCS
Sydney Potter, Deer Ridge Elementary School, SACS
Lucia Rippe, Arlington Elementary School, FWCS
Steven Spencer Jr., Haley Elementary School, FWCS
Kenny Wang, Oak View Elementary School, NACS