14-year-old composer Jack Walsh premiers song in ‘Bach, Beethoven and the Boys’
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Yampa Valley Singers director Christel Houston has been Jack Walsh’s piano teacher for several years, and one day, she suggested the 11-year-old take a stab at composing.
“We found out that I wasn’t as bad as I thought I’d be,” joked now 14-year-old Walsh. “From there, I’ve been composing ever since.”
On Friday, April 5, Walsh’s original composition will make its world premier with the Yampa Valley Singers at their concert, “Bach, Beethoven and the Boys.”
The plot of the evening is Walsh, onstage, is trying desperately to write a piece of music but is struggling with self-confidence and is frustrated at his lack of progress. Soon enough, he’s visited by Bach, Beethoven, Gershwin, Webber and a whole crew of massively monumental composers, who each offer the boy advice and encouragement.
With each visitor, the singers perform a piece of that composer’s. And once Walsh has been thoroughly inspired by his predecessors, the singers’ grand finale is Walsh’s own composition.
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“I knew he’s composed music — mostly instruments, but some for choirs as well,” Houston said. “I got this idea for the plot, and he wrote the piece that would fit our choir.”
It’s the first time the Yampa Valley Singers have put on a concert with any kind of theatrical elements — the costumes, acting and themes throughout the show are new for the group.
“As a choral society, we want to open the door for new composers to showcase their work,” Houston said. “It’s important to develop new art. Why not encourage Jack along his journey?”
What: Yampa Valley Singers present “Bach, Beethoven, and the Boys”
When: 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, and 4 p.m. Saturday, April 6
Where: Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church, 736 Oak St.
Tickets: $10, available from Yampa Valley Singers and at All That, 811 Lincoln Ave.
Walsh’s pieces have been performed by small ensembles several times before but never on this large a scale.
“To hear a whole choir singing your piece is an amazing moment,” the eighth-grader said. “You feel like you’ve worked hard, and it’s really satisfying.”
Concerts are set for 7 p.m. Friday, April 5, and 4 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at Heart of Steamboat United Methodist Church, with a reception to follow.
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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