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Student Composer Showcase - Lily Dantscher

Lily Dantscher is a student at Lyman C. Hunt Middle School. This was Lily's first year participating in Music-COMP's Opus 37 concert.
Lily Dantscher
Lily Dantscher is a student at Lyman C. Hunt Middle School. This was Lily's first year participating in Music-COMP's Opus 37 concert.

September's Student Composer Showcase features Lily Dantscher, at student at Lyman C. Hunt Middle School. Lily's piece "Summer Carnival" was performed at Music-COMP's Opus 37 concert in May of this year.

Lily Dantscher: The idea that my song could be chosen to be played live by actual professionals; someone who is committed to it, who went to school for it, has been doing it for years and years.

James Stewart: That’s Lily Dantscher, this month’s featured composer for our Student Composer Showcase. Lily’s piece “Summer Carnival” was premiered at Music-COMP’s Opus 37 concert in May of this year when Lily was a 7th grader at Lyman C. Hunt Middle School. Lily’s been playing the alto saxophone in the school band for years but composing is something new.

Lily Dantscher: My interest in composing started only a few months back, really. We were doing a school project. We would research things that we would wanna be. We would play games according to that. We were looking further into what we could be, what we wanna accomplish, and one of my ideas was being a composer. And my band teacher, Mr Owens, he was like, “Oh, there's a great class that you can take and your song could be chosen if you get it done and all.” I was like, “Oh, cool, I'll take it.”

James Stewart: Lily is talking about Music-COMP, the music composition mentoring program that pairs student composers with mentors to create original works.

Lily Dantscher: It was definitely a little scary at first because I didn't know how to write music. So, it was definitely a process of getting comfortable into the programming and how to use it. But once I kind of got a grip on it and I started going, it got a lot easier and I was flowing through it very easily. There were a few blocks but Travis was there to help me get through.

James Stewart: Lily’s mentor was Travis M. Ramsey, a professional composer living in New Hampshire.

Lily Dantscher: He gave very helpful like little… “Why don't you add an ad lib over here? Just give, give the drummers an idea of what they wanna do.” I've never written for drums and I don't play drums. So, that was challenging for me to know, like which note was which and then how it would be played. It was very helpful for me to know how it sounded from someone else's perspective; someone who wasn't gonna just flat out tell me, “Oh, it sounds good,” just because they're too shy to tell me that it doesn't.

James Stewart: This was Lily’s first year participating in Music-COMP and their project was selected to be a part of the Opus 37 concert which is a showcase of students' work from all over Vermont.

Lily Dantscher: My song is called “Summer Carnival” and it's written for alto saxophone and a drum set. The inspiration for it was really just, I threw on a few notes and I decided that it sounded good and I carried on from there. I just knew that I wanted it to feel joyful the entire way through and I just wanted it all to feel very happy. While they were playing it the first run through. I just felt very proud like this is where I started and this is where I came. It was a great feeling just to know like that I have the ability to do that.

“Summer Carnival” by Lily Dantscher
Kyle Saulnier, Saxophone
Andy Gagnon, Percussion

Performed at Music-COMP’s Opus 37 concert, May 2, 2023 at The Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington, Vermont.

The Student Composer Showcase is produced in collaboration with Music-COMP, the music composition mentoring program and Lake Champlain Access Television. The Music Composition Mentoring Program (Music-COMP) is a Vermont non-profit started in 1995 that teaches students in grades 3-12 how to compose original music. Students are paired with professional composers as mentors, and over 50 works are premiered each year with professional musicians.

Production support for the Student Composer Showcase is provided by Lake Champlain Access Television, a community media center serving eight towns in Chittenden, Franklin, and Grand Isle Counties, providing a free forum for expression, and a link to local government and training. More at

James Stewart is Vermont Public Classical's afternoon host. As a composer, he is interested in many different genres of music; writing for rock bands, symphony orchestras and everything in between.