Bravo!’s Young Composers performances set for Wednesday, Thursday in Vail |

Bravo!’s Young Composers performances set for Wednesday, Thursday in Vail

Special to the Daily

VAIL – A dozen bright, young faces gazed at John Deak and the musicians who surrounded him. Professional musicians were bringing their music to life right before their eyes and ears.

The Young Composers program asks local kids to compose music, or an idea for some music. They started Friday and they finish Wednesday morning. They have to. At 1 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday the show goes on, as it must.

“I’m amazed at how fast all the kids are advancing,” said Liz Campbell, Bravo’s education and outreach director. “It’s incredible how few notes are written when they showed up Friday, and how it comes together for a full performance by Wednesday.”

Performances are 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Vail Public Library, and 1 p.m. Thursday at the Avon Public Library.

The kid composers come up with a storyline and storyboard for a Journey to Symphony Sea. Musical instruments start wherever they start, and journey to the sea. The instruments and kids have some amazing adventures along the way.

Eventually, the instruments end up in the Symphony Sea where they’re supposed to be, and music gets written and performed.

Deke runs the program for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. It’s a learning experience for everyone.

You might think boys and girls write music differently, boys blowing up stuff as their instruments make their way to the sea, girls negotiating and discussing. Not so, says Campbell. They’re too focused on music for mayhem.

“Some kids have never heard a clarinet,” says Campbell.

But they know what they want the music to sound like.

“There’s this thing that an iPhone app does. I heard it when were on vacation in Florida,” explained young Mack Calicrate, duplicating the iPhone app sound. “Can you make it do that?”

“Yes, we can,” said the trumpet player, then makes his trumpet do that, much to young composer Calicrate’s delight.

The percussionist was asked the same thing minutes later, and had the same answer.

Bill Gordh, a storyteller, carried in a guitar and banjo. It’ll fit in somewhere.

It’s important to catch them while they’re young, while they’re still uninhibited and unafraid to express their creativity – before they’re told that’s not OK, Campbell says. Kids range from 9-12 years old, and come from all income levels.

This is Jeremiah Johnston’s fourth year. You should have seen him on stage with Yo-Yo Ma earlier this month. He and a couple other young composers wrote a piece that the cellist performed.

It was called, “Coyoyote,” which is a pretty funny name to go on some pretty good music. At least Yo-Yo Ma thought so, and liked the music enough to perform it.

Ben West is in his second year. He came in with his ideas on paper, and he’d notated what he thought the music should sound like. Friday’s initial meeting was the first time he’d heard it when a professional clarinetist brought it to life. Both West and the musician were grinning from ear to ear.

Deke started with the program when he was with the New York Philharmonic, which is in Vail this week. He retired last year, but he still does this.

Conrad Kehn teaches music and composition with the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, and performs with the Playground Ensemble. They play 50 gigs a year.

Kehn is teaching teachers to teach this stuff.

“We’re trying to get adults familiar with this, so they can teach it in local schools,” Campbell said.

At the last performance last year, Campbell told everyone that they needed financial support to keep the program going. A set of grandparents stepped up and wrote the check, which is one of the many things grandparents do.

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