Sasha - Young Musicians Program

On September 20th, Sasha received a text on the year-round Walden group chat. It read: “Only 40 weeks, 00 days, 19 hours, and 22 minutes ‘till Walden 2018 begins!”

Her brain was on fire, because she did not feel so far away from the place she loves most. Sasha began her time at Walden at age 10. She remembers knowing, from her first hug by a faculty member she had just met and a roommate who welcomed her from the start, that Walden was special. She was surprised and encouraged to find that people reached out to her, wanting to discover more about her talents and her personality. She believes part of Walden’s sense of community comes from everyone learning to reach out to those around them and discover what makes them special. It made her want to learn about others and celebrate the diversity of her peers.

The first time Sasha sang Goodnight Music, she felt she would never forget the people at Walden. Everyone came together to commemorate the events of the day and the progress made as individuals and as a group. People come to Walden expecting a typical camp, but Walden helps people get comfortable being themselves in a community. For Sasha, Walden helped her learn to trust herself more and to be more assertive in school, with friends, and as a composer.

In 2016, Sasha wrote a festival piece at Walden that helped her discover, for the first time, her personal style.

It was a piece about dreams. The feedback and acceptance by her peers and mentors at Walden was life-changing. Hearing other people her age affirm her music inspired her to continue writing music. She now attempts to think about relationships and emotion with every piece she composes. She attributes this important aspect of her life to the community of Walden, and she thinks about it every day.

2017 Season Highlights

Transformative Programs

Walden’s 35th season at our wonderful host Dublin School celebrated another exciting season during campus construction of a new dorm, refurbished academic buildings, and a remodeled recital hall (with air-conditioning!) that Walden will be able to utilize in 2018.

  • Walden’s 45th Young Musicians Program brought creative, talented young composers from 12 states and 4 countries to Dublin. These students spent five life-changing weeks working with incredible faculty, top-notch artists and ensembles, and guest Composer-in-Residence, Robert Kyr.
  • At the 2017 Creative Musicians Retreat in June, our adult participants, ranging in age from 19 to 79, joined us for another immersive week of composing and learning from renowned faculty, guest ensembles, and Composer-in-Residence, Annie Gosfield.



Award-winning Concert Series

Walden’s Concert Series and artist presentations were again offered completely free and open to the public throughout seven weeks this summer. More than 20 events were presented during June-August.

  • Guest artists Mivos String Quartet, percussionist Matthew Gold, pianist Steve Beck, violinist Josh Modney, reed quintet Splinter Reeds, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Ryan Ross Smith, The Walden School Players, and Aurora Nealand & the Royal Roses performed.
  • Walden’s annual choral concert, featuring Walden students, faculty, and community members, closed out the concert series on a high note at All Saints’ Church in Peterborough.
  • Splinter Reeds, which premiered 7 new works by Walden faculty members, also played programs for Community Connections partners Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center and Keene Public Library.
  • Collaborative Partnerships: A key component of Walden’s success is its partnerships with renowned organizations.
  • PRISM Quartet – Continuing Walden’s 25-year partnership with this outstanding ensemble, Walden alumnus Reiny Rolock’s piece was premiered at concerts in Philadelphia and New York.
  • Boston Philharmonic Young Composers Initiative – A reading and recording of six compositions featured a new work by Walden student Francesca Hellerman, performed by the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Walden faculty members Osnat Netzer and Evan Williams served on the discussion panel with other Boston-area university and conservatory faculty.
  • The MacDowell Colony – Walden continued its decades-long association with its annual visit to this preeminent artist colony. Students heard from two of this summer’s MacDowell Fellow composers, Pulitzer Prize-winner Caroline Shaw and Walden’s own Sam Pluta, Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Chicago.
  • International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) – ICE returned for a third consecutive summer to perform new works by Walden students, as well as a world premiere by Walden faculty member Eliza Brown.
  • Ensemble Dal Niente – Continuing Walden’s success in attracting ensembles to perform Walden student and alumni compositions, Dal Niente has commissioned a piece by Walden student Ruby Landau-Pincus.
  • Connecting the Walden/JCC Community: We gathered during the year to celebrate & support our musical community.
  • In December and January, six Walden holiday parties were held in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
  • Walden presented an Alumni Composers Forum in San Francisco in January that featured 7 pieces by alumni from all over the U.S., moderated by Walden faculty Emil Margolis and Alex Ness and featuring Wild Rumpus.
  • We celebrated Walden with fundraisers (and friend-raisers!) in Washington, D.C., in March, Boston, New York, and San Francisco in May, and Dublin in August. These events helped raise more than $30,000 for Walden’s programs! The events featured world-class performances by Walden alumnus Cyrus Chestnut, Jesse Mills & Rieko Aizawa, Austin Wulliman, Jennifer Kloetzel, and Walden alumna Hilary Kole.

Sky - Teacher Training Institute

I first learned about Walden when I was an undergraduate music composition major at Luther College.

My composition professor Brooke Joyce, who was an amazing teacher and mentor, had taught at Walden in the past and Walden’s musicianship pedagogy infused his teaching. Brooke encouraged me to attend Walden’s Teacher Training Institute and I went in 2009 (the summer between my junior and senior year). There, I immediately experienced the magic of Walden and was supported and challenged, learning how to teach the Walden musicianship course while improving my own musicianship and stimulating my compositional creativity. I was hooked. Thanks to my training at Walden, I was hired as a music theory and ear-training tutor at Luther during my senior year and I thus began my work as a practitioner of creative musicianship and composition pedagogy.

The summer after I graduated from college (2010) was my first summer as a faculty member at Walden’s Young Musicians Program, and I have been on faculty every summer since. I feel truly privileged to be able to spend my summers enmeshed in the caring, positive, and brilliant Walden community. It feeds my soul to see the positive impact that Walden has on students’ artistic, intellectual, social, and emotional development, and I am extremely proud of the high level of music that we create each and every summer. I met my husband at Walden; it is the kind of place where we could quickly see and fall in love with each others’ best selves.

I certainly would not be where I am today professionally if not for Walden.

My first ‘big’ commission, an orchestra piece for the Lexington Symphony, came through my involvement with Walden. This piece helped me gain admission into the DMA program at Columbia University, which has given me the financial support to study music, hone my craft, and build my career in New York City for the past four years. When I first moved to New York, I already knew many of the stars of the contemporary music scene from our interactions at Walden. I have had many collaborations and projects that blossomed from connections formed at Walden.

Just this summer, I received my biggest commission yet from Chamber Music America to write a new piece for Splinter Reeds, the quintet of Walden faculty member and Walden Players bassoonist Dana Jessen. One of my most critically acclaimed pieces, my string quartet Many Many Cadences, was originally commissioned by Walden for the 2014 Young Musicians Program ensemble-in-residence Spektral Quartet. I went on to revise and rehearse the piece with Spektral over the next year and they recorded it on their 2016 album Serious Business.

Everything I know about teaching I learned at Walden. I am now in a place where I can use the Walden model to design a lesson about any musical topic.

My pedagogical methods from Walden translate into the college classes, private lessons, and pre-college classes that I teach. Yet, my favorite place to teach is Walden, where I really get to know my students, have the freedom and support to create exciting new classes, and contribute to the ever-expanding body of Walden musicianship knowledge. Walden has deeply and profoundly changed my life and I’m sure it will continue to open doors and connect like-minded souls for every person who gets involved.


Francesca - Young Musicians Program

Francesca first came to Walden at age 9. She attended summer camps before, but usually felt lost and found it a struggle to fit in.

She immediately noticed that Walden was different. This camp emphasized not only creativity and music, but also acceptance and respect, which were just as important. Instead of feeling like she didn’t fit in, Francesca felt encouraged to open up and risk showing more of her personality and talents. She discovered that Walden faculty, even though they were professionals in their fields, collaborated with her as musical colleagues.

As she returned to Walden summer after summer, Francesca found herself taking a leadership role at Walden, encouraging young and new students to find their voice as she had. This past summer, an experience at a Composers Forum caused her to reflect on her own journey at Walden. A young boy was surrounded by incredibly talented musicians asking him questions about his composition. She felt as if she was watching him grow as an artist right before her eyes, and realized that her growth had started with experiences like these when she was new to Walden. Francesca attended Walden for the 7th time in 2017.

Walden has broadened Francesca’s understanding and knowledge of composition, music, and artistic creativity.

Music is a much more significant part of her life now. She takes composition lessons throughout the school year, she understands the importance of new music and new music ensembles, and, as a composer, she has gained invaluable experience collaborating with professional performers.

Walden means much more to Francesca than a place where her musical abilities grow. Walden helps her in her journey to better herself. She attributes her growth as an autonomous, confident leader, both among her Walden and non-Walden peers, to her time at the Walden School. She now has a network of supportive and creative friends all over the world. And, she understands how a strong community can foster creative thinking and personal growth.

Evan - Young Musicians Program

Evan sums up Walden as “a small paradise that opens you up to a whole world.”

At 15, he already loved music, but Evan was surprised at the depth and intensity of Walden’s curriculum, finding it challenging and intense. A prevalent attitude in the classroom was the idea that he should explore what it is about music and composing that drove him to succeed as an artist. Walden faculty and peers helped him realize how important it is to develop an individual voice by putting your own humor, passions, and personality on display. He was thrilled to discover a love for Bach at Walden, as well as a love of nature through music that was completely new to him. His abilities as a pianist grew exponentially throughout the summer and won an award for a piece he wrote at Walden. Now, he can’t imagine a future in music without composing. After attending Walden, Evan also feels like he has lifelong friendships in the Walden community and a network of friends and professionals in the music world.

Juli Anna, Evan’s mom, believes Walden was life-changing for Evan.

As a musician, the difference between Evan before and after Walden was like night and day. He seemed a year ahead after 5 weeks at Walden. She loved that students have the opportunity to disconnect from the outside world (specifically no phones or computers), focus on their talents, and enjoy the community activities and interaction. All this and more had an extremely positive effect on Evan. He matured by leaps and bounds as a musician, but she is also thrilled with how calming and eye-opening it was for Evan personally.

eNews: InterNetzo – December 2016

Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Happy Holidays to one and all!

I hope this message finds you enjoying the spirit of the season – full of anticipation and hope for the coming New Year. We here at Walden have been busy wrapping up the 2016 season and are now readying 2017 applications, mailing fundraising appeals to our supporters, organizing January holiday parties around the country, and turning our attention to the coming summer. So while you’re hunkered down through the winter, know that we are hankering for all things summer.

2016 was a banner summer, which unfortunately began the same day as the many-alarm fire in San Francisco that displaced the Walden administrative office. Just as we were welcoming participants to the Creative Musicians Retreat, we heard the news that the space we’ve been in for 15 years was lost. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but 8-10 buildings were destroyed or severely impaired, including Walden’s. We lost furniture and supplies, records and equipment, but a remarkable amount of things survived so that we could dry and clean them from the extensive water and smoke damage. Mostly, however, we’ve lost a home away from our New Hampshire summer home and of course, time – time to remove our items, time to find a new office, and time to work through restoring records and moving in. Thanks to all for your outpouring of support. We’re now settled in our new place, and if you’re in San Francisco, we hope you will come and visit us.

The Walden School
30 Monterey Boulevard, Suite E
San Francisco, California 94131

There are a lot of great stories in this newsletter. I hope you’ll read about the success of our wonderful summer programs, the Creative Musicians Retreat and the Young Musicians Program. For those of you who are alumni and past members of the summer community, I hope you’ll continue to identify in present-day Walden the many things that made your experiences so special when you participated. From hikes to local mountains, singing in chorus, the Word of the Day, Composers Forums, Goodnight Music, and more, much of the essence of Walden and JCC remains present and palpable to alumni who visit.

We mourn the recent passing of Pauline Oliveros, mentor to many Walden students and faculty, past and present. She was a member of Walden’s Advisory Council, a longtime and loyal donor, and a visiting artist. Her music is integral to Walden’s programs, performed by the community each summer. Her musicianship and teaching were legendary, and the music world has lost a remarkable person. Her music and her call to each of us to listen deeply will most certainly live on. Rest in peace, Pauline.

And finally, The Board of Directors, at its summer meeting, unanimously adopted Walden’s new mission and vision statements. Our wonderfully crafted previous mission and vision statements held us in good stead for the past 17 years, but it was time to refine and clarify Walden’s purpose for now and the years ahead. I share them here in hopes that you will derive as much inspiration from them as I do.

The Walden School inspires artistic expression and personal growth through experiential music programs.

The Walden School envisions a world in which people engage with one another creatively, collaboratively, and with respect.

Best wishes for a joyous and peaceful holiday season.

A Revised and Refreshed Mission and Vision

by Rita Mitra, Board Member

The Walden School’s new mission and vision statements are the result of a year and a half collaboration among the School’s various constituents – faculty, administration, students, parents, alumni, and current and former board members. The mission and vision task force began its work at ground level by asking what the terms “mission” and “vision” really mean. Then we reviewed the prior mission and vision – here, it became clear that Walden has remained true to its essence over the years, and that our main task would be to reflect what Walden does, and why it does so, more clearly and concisely.

To that end, we sent out a survey to dozens of members of the Walden community and compiled the results. After months of spirited debates over both the global and the minute, the full board and members of the faculty and staff participated in a few ‘jam’ sessions during July’s board meeting, expertly led by our facilitator, Susan Meier. The Board voted unanimously to adopt the new statements. All in all, our work has felt like a meta-Walden process in itself – creative, thought-provoking, respectful, and collaborative. We look forward to curating a “values” section to describe Walden in more depth during the coming year. Many thanks to all involved in this effort.

SUMMER 2017 – Applications are Ready!

Would you or someone you know benefit from Walden’s creative pedagogy, inspiring teachers, and collaborative community?

Creative Musicians Retreat: June 17 – 25

Young Musicians Program: July 1 – August 6

Teachers, students, parents, children, teenagers, composers, conductors, pedagogues, performers, professionals and amateurs: we can’t wait to hear from you!

CONTACT US to get yours if you are interested in CMR or new to YMP. Returning YMP students will receive an abbreviated application this month.

Alumni – Hand Over Hand

Noah Mlotek & Sophie Coran

We were thrilled to see familiar faces join us in Dublin over the summer. Who visited?

  • Marguerite Ladd
  • Montana Rogers
  • Noah Mlotek
  • Sophie Coran (performed a concert of original songs for Festival Week!)
  • Emil Margolis
  • Solomon Ge
  • and Bob Weaver (who attended a YMP Composers Forum this summer, exactly 60 years after his first summer at the Junior Conservatory Camp!)

CALL FOR SCORES! Attention Walden & Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC) program alumni! We want your music. We are announcing two exciting opportunities to have your works performed. Questions? Please write to us at

  • January 21, 2017, 3:00 – 5:00 pm – Alumni Composers Forum in San Francisco. Featuring Wild Rumpus (with alumna Sophie Huet), moderated by Walden faculty members Emil Margolis and Alex Ness. Location: Holy Innocents Episcopal Church.

Walden program alumni (any program/any age) may submit scores for consideration. Scores are due to Walden by Wednesday, December 21, 2016 (email: Pieces scored for a combination of piano, double bass, cello, clarinet, flute, and conductor will be considered for performance by Wild Rumpus. Composers may also submit scores for pieces to be presented by other performers (arranged for by the composer). Selected participants must be present in San Francisco at the event. Preference is given to works not having been previously performed.

Walden is thrilled to have been selected again this year to participate in this exciting orchestral reading/recording session. Preference given to composers 21 years of age or younger. Scores are due to Walden by Friday, January 6, 2017 (email: If selected, parts are due no later than February 8. Pieces must be less than 6 minutes in length. Instrumentation not to exceed (standard doublings),, Timp+3, harp, strings. Composer must be present in Boston on March 11.

CALL FOR NEWS – We want to hear from you! What’s been going on? If you have a recent or upcoming premiere, publication, award, new job or degree program, or a celebratory life event, please share the news.

  1. Send us your news in an email.
  2. Make sure we have your updated contact information.
  3. Connect with the Walden community on Facebook by joining our private group page.

We want to stay in touch with you, especially about the upcoming regional Composers Forums and Holiday Parties.

2016 Young Musicians Program

by Seth Brenzel, Director, Young Musicians Program

So many thrilling concerts and collaborations came to life during the 2016 Young Musicians Program. Our stellar faculty and staff served as caring teachers and mentors to 57 young students (ages 9-18) from around the world. They demonstrated how to be goofy, sophisticated, creative; how to be excellent musicians as well as confident, accomplished communicators. There were 100+ new musical works debuted by both faculty and student composers. We enjoyed weekly hikes, dances, open mics and swimming at the lake. We even were treated to visits by a large bouncy house, popcorn and snowcone machines, and a giant inflatable water slide on the lawn.

The opening weekend featured a marvelous concert by harpist Ben Melsky. In that first week we started in on classes, singing together in chorus, under the direction of Sarah Riskind, and we enjoyed the first of eight Composers Forums. After lots of learning and fun activities, Aurora Nealand & the Mississippi Gipsy thoroughly entertained us on a lovely evening outside the Fountain Arts Building.


Aurora Nealand & the Mississippi Gipsy

Five members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) again joined us for a week of open rehearsals, coachings, and two public concerts. They commissioned and performed eight works from returning students: Francesca Hellerman, Theo Trevisan, Max Chung, Jane Lange, Ruby Landau-Pincus, Alex Colon, Jack Whitelaw, and Max Zelle. These new works got to have another debut in New York City during August as part of Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Read more about it below. In addition, six Walden faculty members (Katherine Balch, Alex Christie, Terry L. Greene, Sky Macklay, Osnat Netzer, and Moshe Shulman) wrote new pieces for ICE. The four students (Eva Montgomery-Morrison, Sam Thorpe, Charley Costantino, and Ionas Finser) from Dana Jessen’s Contemporary Performance class had the opportunity to share the stage with ICE, as well.


On stage with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)

These giants of new music are such an inspiration, and we are honored to continue this partnership with them. ICE pianist Jacob Greenberg said, “Walden is a uniquely intense and encouraging environment. It’s not every day that we’re able to collaborate with students as engaged, curious, and gung-ho as the ones we meet here.”

On the third weekend we enjoyed an Open House for friends and neighbors, including class demonstrations and a concert by Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. These virtuoso singers wowed us all. Their program included works by Walden faculty members Ted Moore, Cara Haxo, Evan Williams, Rebecca Griffin Greene, D.J. Sparr, and Sarah Riskind. Violinists Josh Modney (ICE) and Austin Wulliman (JACK Quartet) joined us for this week, too, performing new student works during Composers Forums. We also enjoyed a wonderful Musicianship Frolic during the 3rd week, during which students and faculty showed off their musicianship drill and improvisation skills for one another during a fun, celebratory evening.


Walden students compose for violinist Josh Modney (ICE)

Walden was so fortunate to be joined again by our “house band,” The Walden School Players. This season’s excellent ensemble included Laura Cocks, flutes; Katie Schoepflin, clarinets; Dana Jessen, bassoon; Erica Dicker, violin; Tawnya Popoff, viola; Chris Wild, cello; Eric Wubbels, piano; and Bonnie Whiting, percussion. They played for our three Festival Week Composers Forums as well as their own superb concert, which included works by Katie Schoepflin, Walden Faculty member and Academic Dean Sam Pluta, and our guest Composer-in-Residence Paula Matthusen, Professor of Music at Wesleyan University.

Paula kicked off Festival Week with a lecture, sharing stories and examples, speaking candidly about developing her musicianship and her experiences as a composer. During Festival Week, we were visited by many Young Musicians Program students’ families. They joined us for the final Composers Forums, class demonstration, and Walden’s Choral Concert at All Saints’ Church in Peterborough.


The Walden School Choral Concert 2016 – Sarah Riskind, director

All of this fun and learning wouldn’t be possible without the immensely important, talented, and beloved Walden School Staff. Kittie Cooper, Charlie Dees, Doug Friedman, Maddy Greenfield, Julie Kaplan, Elliott Nguyen, and Dean of Students Sara Riddington made all of the magic happen behind the scenes. So many rich memories and true friendships were formed at The Walden School’s 2016 Young Musicians Program.

Walden Alumnus and Faculty member Meade Bernard shares his good advice on keeping in touch with creativity, “When I need that extra spark of creativity I like to visualize the moment when I sit down at the piano in the Goodnight Music circle. The only thoughts in my head are the sounds I’ve just heard and the possibilities laid out on the instrument in front of me. The only expectation is that I should ignore expectations; I can filter out the noise of what music should be or should sound like, and just take a deep breath and play. I think we all face creative challenges all the time – musical or not – that can benefit from channeling that very Walden-y sort of free thinking.”

Student Commissions receive New York City debuts!

by Rita Mitra, Board Member

back: Mike Lormand (trombone), Theo Trevisan, Bridget Kibbey (harp), Josh Modney (violin), Jacob Greenberg (piano), Ryan Muncy (saxophones), Jack Whitelaw; front: Max Zelle, Ruby Landau-Pincus, Alex Colon, Francesca Hellerman, Max Chung, Jane Lange

CE’s August performances of works by some of Walden’s young composers at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival were truly inspiring, highlighting the special collaboration that has developed over the years between ICE and Walden. As the performers-in-residence at Mostly Mozart, ICE premiered eight Walden young composers’ pieces on two programs at the festival enthusiastically and with perfection.

The first performance was at Lincoln Center’s outdoor plaza and featured four compositions in one of ICE’s mini-concerts (ICE Performs Music by Young Composers from the Walden School). Several people in the area were drawn to the performance as they wandered by during lunch hour on a gorgeous summer day, and although Walden was, at the time, fully immersed in its own festival week, a few Walden supporters were in attendance, including the grandfather of one of the composers who happened to be visiting New York City that week.

The second event was a fun-filled “trivia” night with a jam-packed audience (A New York Public Library/Mostly Mozart Trivia Concert). The evening included a fun-filled mix of friendly competition between the audience and ICE members, historical tidbits curated by the New York Public Library, and a sprinkling of premieres, four of which were composed by Walden participants in this year’s Young Composer’s Program. ICE pianist Jacob Greenberg graciously introduced The Walden School and its “whiz” kids at both programs. Cheers to ICE for its extraordinary support of new music education and for its ongoing collaboration with Walden!

Learn more about the extraordinary partnership between The Walden School and the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Creative Musicians Retreat 2016 – What an amazing week!

by Caroline Mallonée, Director, Creative Musicians Retreat

Steven Beck (piano), Carlos Cordeiro (clarinet)

The opening concert, performed by resident artists Carlos Cordeiro (clarinet) and Steven Beck (piano), kicked off the Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) with some serious fun. (Have you ever heard someone put both halves of a clarinet in his mouth at the same time? We have. Incredible!) University of Michigan Professor Michael Daugherty was our Composer-in-Residence. He inspired us with stories from his exciting life, gave composition lessons, and moderated each of the three Composers Forums.

The Mivos Quartet was our Ensemble-in-Residence. They presented a stunning concert that included Georg Friedrich Haas’s quartet performed in complete darkness and played many of the 35 new works heard on the Composers Forums. Their prowess and musicianship were tremendous.

This year’s participants came from across the nation and beyond, comprising working professionals, university students, and devoted amateurs—creative musicians of all levels. These talented and busy adults retreated from the demands of daily life and threw themselves wholeheartedly into their music.


Mivos Quartet “I haven’t checked my email all week!” – 2016 Creative Musicians Retreat Participant

Participants came from near and far: William Appleton came from Keene, Damjan Jovičin flew from Serbia, and singer-songwriter Hannah McPhillimy joined us from Northern Ireland. Kevin Kelly drove with his family all the way from Los Angeles to make a vacation of it! I believe this may be the farthest anyone has driven to get to Walden.

We got to know college seniors Jack Langdon from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and Richard An, a Young Musicians Program alumnus who joined us from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California. (He didn’t drive.)

Walden’s Composers Forums are always refreshingly varied, and this year’s were no exception. New music written for our artists-in-residence, faculty performers and chamber choir was presented and discussed. We heard microtonal music by Noah Kahrs; we listened to music from a spread-out quartet by Meade Bernard; we were treated to a theatrical piece by Dylan Richards. Charmaine Lee shared her fluent vocal improvisations, and Ayanna Woods returned for her second summer at CMR, bringing along her clever choral work on tweets by Jaden Smith.


“Finishing my piece was really gratifying. The mystery of how it’s going to turn out is awesome.” – 2016 Creative Musicians Retreat Participant

While Steve Messner’s career is in finance, he looks forward to creating music at Walden each summer. True fact: Steve has been to every CMR session since we started in 2011! Former Young Musicians Program faculty member Bob Crites is a data scientist who returned to Walden to renew his love for composing, first encouraged when he was a student at ‘camp’ in the 1970s!

Our outstanding faculty led classes and improvisation workshops. Osnat Netzer, Renée Favand-See, Ted Moore, Sam Pluta, Nicholas DeMaison, D. J. Sparr and I taught composition lessons, musicianship classes and weeklong seminars on contemporary topics, including in-depth studies of electronic music, orchestration, spatial music, conducting, sound masses and the music of Unsuk Chin. We couldn’t have done any of this without plenty of coffee from Prime Roast, delicious food and our amazing staff – Seth Brenzel, Juliet Kaplan, Doug Friedman, Ted Moore, and Kittie Cooper.


“Where else can you be immersed in interactive, human connection? So rare. So precious.” – 2016 Creative Musicians Retreat Participant

Our participants challenged and inspired each other in classrooms, on the quad, in the dining hall, at the lake, even while hiking Mt. Monadnock. It is safe to say that all participants emerged with renewed creative energy, new friends, and exciting plans for the future.

A wonderful mix of program participants who were new to Walden, alumni from Walden’s programs, and former faculty members came together for the The Walden School 2016 Creative Musicians Retreat to form a warm and creative musical community and to share music and ideas with each other. The open mic on the final night was one of the most varied and exhilarating displays of creativity I have witnessed in a long time. Walden magic!

Now Hear This! New Music by 2016 YMP Students

Theo Trevisan

The 2016 Young Musicians Program saw the world premieres of more than 100 compositions, including this one:

Temporal Illusions by Theo Trevisan.

Listen carefully for the Schoolhouse bell that mysteriously begins and ends the experience. It was performed on the final Festival Week Composers Forum (August 3) by The Walden School Players.

Tawnya Popoff, viola; Chris Wild, cello; Eric Wubbels, piano; Bonnie Whiting, percussion; Sasha Paris-Carter (YMP), bell; Evan Williams, conductor

Development Corner – At Walden, we make fundraising fun!

by Jonathan Thomas, Development Manager

Catlin home – Red Top

Most supporters of The Walden School are aware of the wonderful programs, staff, artistry, and creativity that happen every summer in Dublin, New Hampshire. Did you know that the Walden community gets together throughout the year to celebrate and raise awareness for these programs in different areas of the country? Walden’s two most recent fundraisers in Boston and Dublin were inspiring, successful, and a lot of fun!

On May 7th, 2016, nearly 50 people gathered at the Sloane Merrill Gallery in Beacon Hill for Walden’s first ever fundraiser in the Boston area. Many of the attendees were friends and colleagues of Walden faculty, staff, parents, and board members, learning about Walden’s mission and vision for the first time. Cellist Dave Eggar and guitarist Phil Faconti gave a memorable performance to a packed room. Remarks by Walden parent and board member Rebecca Hawkins spoke to the impact Walden has on participants and families. The event succeeded in raising more than $5,500 for Walden’s programs, and we made many new friends in Boston.

Wulliman performs for Walden fundraiser

Unlike our first trip to Boston, the August 6th event in Dublin was a familiar part of the Walden summer and Festival Week. Susan and Loring Catlin once again opened their beautiful home, Red Top, on Dublin Lake to celebrate the close of another wonderful Walden season. More than 100 people enjoyed a beautiful, sunny afternoon reception with refreshments and a recital. Austin Wulliman, a member of the JACK Quartet and a Young Musicians Program visiting artist, played an exciting program of contemporary and traditional pieces for violin, including a piece by Margaret Taylor, a current Walden student, that fit seamlessly with the other diverse works on the program. More than $7,500 was raised for Walden’s programs at this event.The Walden development team is so appreciative of the generosity of our supporters. Our programs simply could not continue without your gifts. Thanks to your generous support we surpassed our Annual Fund goal!

Thank you for being a part of Walden, and please join us at our next celebration! Speaking of celebrating… HOLIDAY PARTIES are happening in January in six cities! Join us in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., or Baltimore. For more information, please write to us:

Comings and Goings

by Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

One of the many wonderful things about Walden that I cherish is that so many people have worked tirelessly and so hard to make it what it is today, and many new people will come into contact and carry on the great work of the School, making Walden better each year.

This summer, Walden’s board bid farewell to four extraordinary Board members: Chad Shampine, Lucy Henningfield, Jamie Hamilton, and Amelia Lukas. Chad led our development committee for several years and hosted a number of terrifically successful fundraisers for Walden at his home in NYC. Lucy hosted fundraisers and holiday parties at her home in Baltimore, introduced Walden to numerous community members, and was a steady presence as a representative of Walden’s parent community. Jamie did wonderful work connecting Walden with the Monadnock community, and thankfully, she will continue to serve on Walden’s Planning and Program Development Committee. Amelia lent her insight to our outreach and communications efforts and was always a wonderful voice during board deliberations. We thank them all for their service, and we look forward to staying in touch.

We also welcome three new members to Walden’s team – board members and Walden parents Joe Murillo and Rita Mitra, along with Marketing and Communications Manager Natalie Gunn. Find out more about them below.

Meet Joe

We are thrilled to introduce Joe Murillo to the Walden community. Joe resides in Richmond, Virginia, and first learned about The Walden School through his son Danny’s former guitar and composition teacher, D. J. Sparr, an alumnus and current faculty member. Danny’s sister Allie also attended Walden. Both of Joe’s children had a wonderful time as students at the Young Musicians Program, and when Joe visited campus for Festival Week he was struck with how beautiful it is in Dublin, so green and pleasant. He could feel that this was a very special retreat. “The kids were running around making music all over the place! There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and I could sense the warm, nurturing environment.”

Joe comes from a very musical family and grew up playing piano and drums. Every once in a while, he still learns something new (Walden-inspired!) from his son. Joe can tell that Walden has a significant impact on the students. In his own children (now post-college and college-aged), he has witnessed their self-confidence grow and their communities of creative friends thrive. “Walden shows the students that it’s okay to be really into music and the arts. It’s not competitive. It helps de-emphasize the terror of performance—people here are comfortable.”

There are two things Joe is passionate about: music and kids. When asked about what inspired him to volunteer to serve on the Board of Directors, Joe said it was a “no-brainer. Walden is a place that’s very special—it’s hands-on, it encourages kids through the arts. This is a great opportunity. I’m delighted to do it!”

Joe brings a lot of value to the Walden table. In his position at work he deals a lot in the areas of corporate strategy, sustainability, and external relations. He has been involved in all sorts of service endeavors, including the Richmond Symphony and other arts organizations. When he was growing up, many family gatherings turned into musical evenings. He even learned some jazz progressions on piano from his uncle—who learned them from Nat King Cole!

“Being a lifelong musician opens one’s mind because music is a constant learning experience. That’s what makes it so rewarding. Music is a language of creativity, a way to express.” Joe hopes that this message continues to be imparted to kids, and looks forward to working with Walden’s Board of Directors on long-term strategies to ensure a bright future for The Walden School.

Glad you’re back, Rita!

The Walden School warmly welcomes Rita Mitra back to the Board of Directors. “My interest in hearing, performing, and advocating for new music and art, and in providing experiential learning paths to as many people as possible, make this opportunity particularly meaningful–and an honor,” Rita shared with us. She previously served in this role from 2006-2010, and has already been contributing prior to rejoining the board. She headed up the Mission & Vision Task Force that guided the process for creating Walden’s new Mission and Vision, and represented Walden at the New York City premieres of the eight co-commissioned works written by Young Musicians Program composers and performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). (Learn more about these in the stories above.)

Rita came to know and love The Walden School during the years her daughter attended, about ten years ago. “My daughter Danielle still considers Walden her second home,” she says. There was an assignment in Danielle’s English class that sparked her interest in creating music. Her teacher was Sarah Cornog, a former Walden student and Board member herself! “It involved writing music to a literary piece, showing how Walden extends far and wide into other creative endeavors,” Rita adds.

Walden’s unique approach to learning is appealing to Rita. “It encourages its participants to experiment and create freely and without judgment, while at the same time, providing a structured curriculum and small-group/one-on-one instruction for honing the details of their craft. This dual focus on free-form expression and rigorous musical training, all within a close-knit community, leads to an extraordinary amount of personal and intellectual growth and output for anyone involved,” she explained.

In addition to her great contributions as a Walden parent and committee leader, Rita also brings experience as a professional musician and as a designer/developer in the educational publishing world. We are happy to have Rita back on Walden’s board.

Hello to Natalie

The Walden School is happy to introduce our new Marketing and Communications Manager, Natalie Gunn. A recent transplant from her hometown Portland, Oregon, where she sang in Resonance Ensemble with Walden alumna and faculty member Renée Favand-See, Natalie comes to Walden with a rich history of music education, performance, and communications experience in her professional background.

A former faculty member at Linfield College and Willamette University, Natalie also served in leadership roles for chapters of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) and MTNA (Music Teachers National Association). She understands the challenges of music education in the 21st century as well as the business and discipline involved in professional music making. Her performing credits include outreach work for Portland Opera, the Adams Fellowship at the Carmel Bach Festival, and several contemporary and world-premiere works for voice and small ensemble. Natalie has been awarded national honors from major competitions and studied with the legendary Ellen Faull. She holds a Master of Music degree from Portland State University, and is currently enrolled in the MBA program at San Francisco State University.

As a business professional, Natalie brings a keen eye and ear to Walden. As an advocate for creativity and expression, she is impressed with Walden’s environment of powerful creative synergy, of inclusion and respect. During her time on campus this summer she had the opportunity to interact with students, faculty and staff, parents, donors, and members of the Board. “I witnessed the quirky, the sublime, the unknown come to life each day with such devotion. The Walden School is truly inspiring! I understand its value in the bigger picture and look forward to helping to ensure its bright future and honor its legacy.”

In her role, Natalie will be working on projects such as this newsletter, communications with our constituencies, marketing collateral, advertising and media relations, and partnering with program leadership teams in regards to student recruitment, among a myriad of other projects!

Please join me in welcoming Natalie to the Walden community!

A Revised and Refreshed Mission and Vision

Happy Holidays to one and all!

I hope this message finds you enjoying the spirit of the season – full of anticipation and hope for the coming New Year. We here at Walden have been busy wrapping up the 2016 season and are now readying 2017 applications, mailing fundraising appeals to our supporters, organizing January holiday parties around the country, and turning our attention to the coming summer. So while you’re hunkered down through the winter, know that we are hankering for all things summer.

Kevin - Creative Musicians Retreat

“My experience with Walden started as a 25th anniversary gift from my wife.

She felt I needed to broaden my musical horizons and connect with other like-minded composers so her gift was to send me to the 2012 Creative Musicians Retreat. The experience was exhilarating, challenging and uplifting! I have since returned for the Creative Musicians Retreat in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

In addition to learning about contemporary music topics, Walden has given me the opportunity to compose for each of these retreats and have my music performed by first-class musicians. More than that, Walden gave me the confidence to pursue a degree in Music Theory and Composition at the State University of New York at New Paltz, which I just completed this past May. Aside from the Creative Musicians Retreat, Walden has also provided me opportunities to submit scores for two Composers Forums which they sponsored at New York City locations.

But the Walden experience is much more than learning the nuts and bolts of a particular set of topics.

It is much more than just composing pieces and getting them performed. Simply put, Walden is a family affair. Of course many organizations aspire to create a “sense of family” with staff, instructors and students, but the difference is that Walden delivers! One leaves Walden with a sense of belonging to a musical community much bigger and far more important than whatever one might bring to Walden. And the proof of this is so clear when one considers that many of the staff and faculty at each of the Creative Musicians Retreats I attended had spent many summers in their youth at Walden’s Young Musician Program.

So you see, Walden is not about some event you attend or some particular set of subjects to be learned. Rather, it is a unique family environment where creativity is encouraged and where everyone (faculty, staff and students) learns from each other. It is an experience you don’t forget and a feeling that only grows each time you attend an event.


Nathan - Guest Artist

In 1999, a Walden faculty member happened to be at the concert where Nathan’s sextet, Non Sequitur, was performing.

After the invitation, Non Sequitur arrived as an ensemble-in-residence in 2000. Nathan played student and faculty pieces until 2010, and he was able to return in 2017 with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Nathan fell in love with Walden. He never could have imagined such a wonderful environment existed for young musicians, and he wished he had attended something like Walden when he was younger. He reached Walden at a crossroads in his early career as a professional, and Walden became an influential and inspiring part of his journey as a performer. It reminds him of why he does what he does, and he considers himself lucky to have played hundreds of world premieres by faculty and students during his time at Walden. Now, 18 years after he first played at Walden, he often finds himself working with composers with whom he last worked when they were children attending Walden.

Nathan appreciates that although the focus and content of Walden’s programs is primarily music, what Walden really addresses is a sense of community needed by everyone. It is an enduring community of talent that has the same feelings of acceptance and inspiration year after year. It benefits students, performers, and faculty alike. Nathan feels truly privileged to be a part of Walden’s influence in the music community.

Alex - Young Musicians Program

“I have been involved with the Walden School as a student, faculty member, and administrator for many years and I have found that my experience in each of these roles continues to shape all aspects of my life. As a student, Walden let me discover my passion for music and develop a work ethic that set me on my artistic and career path as a composer and educator.

I would not currently be pursuing a PhD in composition if it were not for my time at Walden. I would not have taught music at a university for 5 years, traveled to Paris to study electronic music, or made most of the friends I have if Walden had not helped me realize my passion. It was the supportive community of inspiring people that led me that way. I try to create this environment in every musical, educational, and even personal part of my life.

What is particularly special about Walden is that it doesn’t just teach music. The people at Walden teach each other how to build and care for creative communities full of diverse perspectives. We just happen to do this through music. As a former student and current faculty member it is a privilege to be a part of this community, but it is not something that everyone gets to experience. The power of such a community is special and something worth creating in every part of our lives and sharing with the people around us.

There are plenty of musical programs and organizations that want to ‘make the world a better place.’ This is, of course, a daunting challenge and something that sometimes feels intangible or even unreachable. My time at Walden, however, has shown me that, under the right circumstances and with the right people it’s not so out of reach. I have witnessed time and time again how Walden creates creative, vibrant, and supportive environments for all of its participants. These environments are new worlds and by creating these worlds we also learn how to care for them and share them with others.

This is the most important lesson I’ve learned from my time at Walden and it is a lesson that can be applied to any field.

Walden students, faculty, staff, administrators, and supporters all create this community and are able to take this perspective into any other aspect of their lives. I think about it and live it every day when I meet with my students, when I design classes and curricula, when I collaborate with other artists, when I perform and compose, when I am in class, when I am with my friends and family, and when I think about what it means to be part of a community that is bigger than myself and bigger than music.

– Alex

Pianist Blair McMillen opens Walden School series

Summer music camps, combining focused isolation and self-contained richness, channel something of Henry David Thoreau’s joy in realizing that his Walden retreat “was as far off as many a region viewed nightly by astronomers . . . a withdrawn, but forever new and unprofaned, part of the universe.