This past Friday, Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey hosted a masterclass for the Pictures 2008 project. This competition, sponsored by NJ Arts Collective and the Montclair Art Museum, invited NJ high school and college students to compose works based on a painting in the museum’s collection: Sunset by George Inness (1892). The winning works, as well as my new trio Innesscapes, will be presented on a concert given by the Halcyon Trio at the museum on May 9th at 8 PM. The event also features a pre-concert talk with Inness scholar Adrienne Baxter-Bell at 7:15.

At the masterclass, both the winners and the runners-up met with the Halcyon Trio: Andrew Lamy, Brett Deubner, and Gary Kirkpatrick ( The trio discussed issues of orchestration, notation, and interpretation with the composers, giving them valuable feedback about their work. Whether the composer in question was a 13 year-old middle school student or a college-level composition major, the trio members treated them and their music with professionalism and enthusiasm. Gary Schneider from museum’s education department gave an insightful presentation discussing Inness’ landscape paintings. All in all, it was a most exciting and successful day for the next generation of NJ composers.

Pictured: Halcyon Trio members Brett Deubner, Andrew Lamy, and Gary Kirkpatrick, composer Christian Carey, Montclair Art Museum Education Director Gary Schneider, and student winners David Zas (Rider U.) Michael Mikulka (Rutgers U.), Thomas Oltarzewski (Montclair State U.), Rachael Chastain (Pennsville HS), Ian Vogler (Lakewood HS), Daniel Konstantinovsky (Tenafly Middle School), Tim Vorderstrasse (Midland Park HS), and Sam Skinner (Glen Field Middle School, Montclair).

Photo: Kimberly Burja

2 thoughts on “Pictures 2008 Masterclass”
  1. Yeah, really, now that sounds like a cool program. Interact with performers, get the piece played… get the applause. Good for everybody in the scene.

  2. Sounds like a great initiative. I composed Bleu 3 after Miro’s Les Trois Bleu. It was performed very well, but not (yet) in such a event, linked to the paintings. I hope the students were aware of how lucky they were.

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