Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Senior Zach Sheets's orchestral composition titled "Midnight Unfolding" will be performed at First Night in Burlington, VT by the 100-person Vermont Youth Orchestra.

"Sometime during the day on December 31st it will be played at the Flynn Theater," Zach says. The Flynn is downtown Burlington's main venue for the arts.

Zach writes: The VYO posted a "call for scores" on an online composition program called the Vermont MIDI Project. The project ( is how I learned to compose, and my pieces have been played eleven times by various ensembles in their biannual competition.

It's an amazing program that works to integrate composition into the school curriculum by having mentors post comments to young composers on the website, through a music notation program called Sibelius. Since HHS doesn't participate, I work as an independent study student. This year I have started to work as both a student and a mentor for some of the younger students.

The VYO has never played any of my pieces before, but I have had pieces played by the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, the Constitution Brass Quintet (in Burlington), and the Arcadian Wind Quintet in Boston. I don't play in the VYO, so I won't be playing flute on my piece. I go down to Boston every Sunday and play in the Boston Youth Symphony.

from the Vermont Midi web site:

For ten years, the Vermont MIDI Project has fostered a community of music educators, professional composer mentors, and pre-service educators who encourage and support music composition for students. Addressing composition in the curriculum for classroom music, theory and composition courses, instrumental and vocal ensembles is being achieved through a variety of activities.

Professional composers and other project participants critique compositions in-progress and make suggestions about possible changes and improvements. This work takes place in a respectful climate with established protocols for this mentoring.
Resources for music composition are gathered and disseminated through a variety of means: print handouts, interactive learning network sessions, lecture/demonstration sessions, and in-school residencies.

Since April 2000, the Opus events have been held each fall and spring. The power of live performance by professional musicians has become a driving force for students in the Vermont MIDI Project. Teachers also encourage live performance of original compositions in their own schools.