Student Composer Showcase - Leela McCann
November's Student Composer Showcase features Leela McCann, a fifteen-year-old student of the U-32 school district in East Montpelier, Vermont. Leela's piece "for E.T." was premiered at Music-COMP's Opus 37 concert in May of this year.
Leela McCann: It's really just creative expression, I feel like. I just, I love music and I get ideas and I wanna write ‘em out. It just comes from somewhere, but I just have inspiration sometimes and need to write.
James Stewart: That’s the voice of Leela McCann, a fifteen-year-old student of the U-32 school district in East Montpelier, Vermont. Leela is the featured composer of this month’s Student Composer Showcase.
Leela McCann: This is my first (time) actually being here for Opus. Last year, I was traveling. This is my second time I've composed something. I like that I have friends that I know that also are here. And I have not yet, I’ve yet to experience the whole thing put together this evening, which is gonna be really fun, I think.
James Stewart: Leela is talking about the Opus concerts put together by Music-COMP, the music composition mentoring program that pairs student composers with mentors to create original works. Leela’s piano piece “for E.T.” was premiered at Music-COMP’s Opus 37 concert in May of this year.
Leela McCann: So, a lot of the stuff I write is melancholy and in a minor key. So I was like, you know what, let's try to write something in a major key and it didn't work. It's a waltz and it's a faster waltz, but it's in a minor key. The main melody that came out of it was actually something that I wrote years ago. It was just sitting in the back of my mind that I started writing and I was like, ‘Oh, you know, I wanna put this in there.’
James Stewart: Leela’s music is gaining attention. Her brass piece “Entering the Ice Palace” will be featured in the VSO brass quintet’s holiday tour around the state next month. She credits Music-COMP and her mentor Hannah Ishizaki for cultivating this passion for music-making.
Leela McCann: I'm really glad I discovered it. And I think for years to come, I wanna keep composing stuff. It's really inspired me to write.
James Stewart: Now, let’s get to the music. Here’s Leela introducing her piece at Music-COMP’s Opus 37 concert.
Leela McCann: Hi. My name is Leela McCann. Wow! This is loud. My piece is titled “for E.T.” and I wrote it for my friend, not an extraterrestrial. And, I want to thank my mentor, Hannah.
“for E.T.” by Leela McCann
Alison Ceruti, piano.
Performed at Music-COMP’s Opus 37 concert, May 2, 2023 at The Cathedral of St. Joseph in Burlington, Vermont.
You can catch more of Leela’s music in December. Her piece “Entering the Ice Palace'' will have its world-premiere performance by the VSO brass quintet during their 2023 holiday tour, visiting Warren, Newport, Grafton and Manchester with the Counterpoint Chorus. For more details, dates and tickets, visit VSO.org. Also this performance of Leela’s piece will mark Music-COMP’s 1000th premiere of a new work since Opus 1 back in the year 2000. That’s an exciting milestone.
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 lcatv.org