New music for the concert hall

New music is being composed all of the time. The National Association of Composers USA founded by Henry Hadley in 1933 is one of the oldest organizations devoted to the promotion and performance of American concert hall music. The organization presents several chamber concerts each year that feature music by its members and other contemporary composers and holds a national competition for new music by American composers aged 18-30. Many of America's most distinguished 20th century composers have been members of NACUSA.

The Southern Oregon chapter joins in association with NACUSA's other chapters in Los Angeles, New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, Baton Rouge, La., Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, and the newest chapter in the Portland area.

The Southern Oregon chapter will present an evening of new compositions at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at the Congregational United Church of Christ, 717 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

On the program will be the winning composition in the chapter's first Student Composition Competition, "Fantasy Quintet," by Diego Velásquez, a senior at North Medford High School.

Velásquez played bass for his school orchestra and for the jazz band. He has written many pop songs since the start of his freshman year but began writing classical pieces in late December of 2008 as part of his senior project. He also has written a song for his school Chamber orchestra and has written many piano pieces since the beginning of this year.

Velásquez plans to expand his knowledge of music theory in San Francisco, where he'll be moving for college this fall and aspires to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His long-term goals are to become the director of a string orchestra at the high school or college level and compose in his spare time.

Two other "musicians of the future" will be featured performers in Velásquez's winning composition. Violinist Chris Scherer, who now studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, attended high school in the Rogue Valley and was a concerto winner with the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon. Pianist Ashley Hoe attends Ashland High School and studies piano with Kristina Foltz, violin with Faina Podolnaya and flute with Debra Harris.

Also on the program, the SyZyGy Ensemble will perform new chamber works by NACUSA members William Ashworth, I'lana Cotton, David Rogers, Stephen Truelove, R. Barry Ulrich and Mark Jacobs for flute, oboe, violin, cello, piano and guitar in various combinations.

Jacobs' piece, "The Island," is a trio for alto flute, viola and guitar inspired by the 1915 composition "Sonata" for flute, viola and harp by Claude Debussy. The performance will feature Harris, alto flute; Patricia Berlet, viola and David Rogers, guitar.

Tickets are $10, at the door, $5 for students.

Call 488-5506.

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