Friday, May 6, 2016

Windham High School senior composer places third in statewide 20th annual competition - By Elizabeth Richards

Windham High School senior Samantha Barry was recently announced the third place winner in the high school category of the 20th Young Composers’ Competition & Festival put on by the Bagaduce Music Lending Library. 

Young composers from across the state submitted their original compositions for review by a team of expert judges. Winners were announced on April 16th at the Young Composers Festival in Blue Hill, ME. Emmy award winner Paul Sullivan delivered the keynote speech and conducted a roundtable discussion with contestants and judges.

The purpose of the competition is to offer a forum for Maine’s students to create new musical works, developing their composing and notation skills, and receive valuable feedback from professional musicians. All submissions become part of the Bagaduce Music Lending Library’s esteemed Maine Collection.

Eighteen-year-old Barry began composing when she was nine. After starting piano lessons at eight, she said, she realized that the songs used to teach her didn’t just come out of nowhere. “I started dabbling, hitting random things on the keyboard and seeing what sounded good,” she said. As she gained a stronger theory base, her writing became more complex, she said. “I’ve loved writing since I started doing it,” she added. 

Barry has a solid foundation for embracing her musical talent. The daughter of two middle school band directors, she said “Music has always been very present in our house.” In addition to composing, Barry plays six different instruments. “I guess it was inevitable that I would play an instrument, but I really love music,” she said.

Though her winning piece “Prelude in C-sharp Minor” was written for piano, Barry said she composes for a lot of other ensembles as well. She has entered this competition five times since she began composing, and has placed three of those years. “It’s a statewide competition, and a lot of very talented students enter it,” said Barry. “Part of what’s great to me about the festival is the chance to meet those other students who are interested in composing and music.”
It’s also nice to have validation for her pieces, she added. “It’s nice to see that someone else can appreciate it as well,” she said.

Barry plans to attend college next year, and has long term plans to use her music. She plans to study neuroscience and music. After graduate school, she hopes to do research on how music can help children who have Autism and Down’s Syndrome.

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