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Student Composer Showcase - Ellery Mitchell

Ellery Mitchell lives in Burlington with their family and backyard chickens. Ellery spends time reading, crafting as well playing and composing music.
Ellery Mitchell
Ellery Mitchell lives in Burlington with their family and backyard chickens. Ellery spends time reading and crafting, as well playing and composing music.

March's Student Composer Showcase features Ellery Mitchell, a seventh grader at Hunt Middle School in Burlington, Vermont. Ellery's piece "Endless Words" was premiered at Music-COMP's Opus 37 concert in May of 2023.

Ellery Mitchell: I knew that they were gonna play it, but I didn't actually think that, like, I would realize that, “Wow, this is my song they're playing.” So it was like, kind of awe inducing. 

James Stewart: That’s the voice of Ellery Mitchell, currently a seventh grader at Hunt Middle School, after hearing their music performed in rehearsal at Music-COMP’s Opus 37 event in May of 2023.

I’m James Stewart with Vermont Public Classical and Ellery Mitchell is this month’s featured composer for our Student Composer Showcase. Ellery has been involved with music for years. They’re playing King Triton in their school’s production of The Little Mermaid. They sing in the chorus, play the piano, clarinet and ukulele. Composition, though, is becoming a growing interest.

Ellery: It's kind of a way to express feelings that words can't really explain. I like listening to music. It's like a way of creating my own music and I can like, adjust all the little things that I don't like and tune it to perfection.

James: Music-COMP is Vermont’s premiere composition mentoring program, pairing student composers with mentors to create original works.

Ellery: My mentor was Mike Close and he was really helpful because, obviously I didn't really know what I was doing except for like the piano. So there's ranges that I had to think about and like, even if something was in the range, it might not be easy to play; like dynamics. I didn't really know what I wanted done for dynamics. So he was a big help there also.

James: Ellery was in sixth grade during the Opus 37 event and their piece “Endless Words” marked their first time participating in the concert.

Ellery: The main thing that I started with was piano because I'm really familiar with that. And I added flute, clarinet and guitar because I knew clarinet, and flute and guitar had the sounds that I liked. But those three weren't an option for the instruments that we had. So I had to change those to alto sax, trumpet and vibraphone. This is kind of the first composition that I've made that I've kind of focused about like harmonies, because with the vibraphone, I didn't like just repeat the notes with the other instruments.

When I first started it, it was still a bit repetitive and I wanted to add a bit of variety. I changed up the ending and I added the vibraphone part which was different also. So I guess what I really wanted to do was like, not be the same thing over and over and over again.

James: Let’s get to the music. Here’s Ellery introducing and describing their work at the premiere.

Ellery: Hi. My name is Ellery Mitchell. I'm a sixth grader at Hunt Middle School. I created the tune for “Endless Words” when I was experimenting on my piano. Composing this song was a way to get my thoughts out and represent feelings and ideas that words can't really describe, hence the title, “Endless Words.” I enjoyed creating this and I hope you enjoy it too.

"Endless Words" by Ellery Mitchell
alto sax, Kyle Saulnier
trumpet, Chris Rivers
piano, Alison Cerutti
vibes, Evan Peltier
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.