I’m verry happy that WDR has embraced this idea of a fellowship for young composers. And by young I’m talking about highschool age 16 to 18 years old. And the idea of it is to start early to cultivate the imagination and technique of young writers, to show them what could be possible and that there are people here who are interested in your ideas and maybe there are some individual creative ideas that are being written and we want to be there to play it. The whole thing was an idea of Vince Mendoza whose son participates in a similar program in L.A., but in a classical music context. He takes part in a fellowship with the L.A. Philharmonic, which has basically the same idea like our program: That young and aspiring composers get the chance to get lessons from experienced musicians and to hear their pieces. Vince Mendoza liked that idea so much and than saw that such a program did not exist for jazz. That’s why he initiated the project here with the WDRBig Band. I started to compose a few years ago. I than started with arrangements of standards until I was ready to realize my own ideas. A friend of mine told me about the WDR Fellowship-program for young composers, which – I thought – was a chance I should not miss. In the beginning I was a little concerned about, whether people so young in age would be able to do such things. But the concerns were gone entirely. And now I really like doing it a lot and it works pretty well. It really helps to get structure into the compositions and we learn about the way one composes, not only about the musical things in the background, but about the whole process taking place. Which means that it’s also about, how to tackle such a piece to be composed. It is really a kind of passing the torch, which is the main aspect for me. It’s not that important, that the participants write in a jazz-style way, exactly for a Big Band, right from the start. But it’s desired that they try out things, with their own musical background from other musical styles. It’s basically about giving them the chance gaining a foothold. The Fellowship-program is a blessing for me. It opened many doors for me. For instance I am now more open-minded about classical music and I can attend many concerts of the WDR Sinfonieorchester and the WDR Big Band. Besides it’s wonderful to be able to work with Florian Ross and Vince Mendoza, who are both great composers who I admire. It’s pretty helpful to get their tips and opinions concerning my compositions. The reading sessions work like this: We hand out our composed pieces to the musicians, who play these compositions and a lot of times the reading session consists of 80 percent questions and only 20 percent playing. Which is caused by the fact, that we’re relatively inexperienced and that there are still a lot of questions about the pieces, how some parts should be played. Simply things, that you forget to write down at all or imprecisely. I think that the main idea of this project is that we don’t forget to pass on this art form. And that we ensure that young people grow in place that are able to use the ressources of the WDR Big Band and maybe at some point write for this Band on a full-time basis. A really good tip from Florian was, that you should write down the piece as a whole like a sketch and afterwards begin with the arrangement and refinement of the piece. That’s one of the tips, which are really helpful. And the Composers Fellowship is full of them.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


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