eNews: InterNetzo – September 2023

Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Seth Brenzel headshot

Dear Walden friend,

As fall arrives, I am still dreaming of Walden’s magical 50th-anniversary summer.

Walden’s 2023 fiscal year ends this Saturday, September 30, and our goal of raising $365,000 for Walden’s Annual Fund is within reach. Below, we share an update on Walden’s fundraising progress and ask for your help in taking us across the finish line. Thank you for your support!

In this edition of InterNetzo, we feature Walden supporter Tuck Crocker, who recently donated his family’s beautiful Steinway piano to Walden. This special gift will greatly enrich our concerts, forums, and renditions of Goodnight Music for many years to come.

Plus, we share a reminder about an exciting concert tomorrow in Denver, featuring works by five Walden-affiliated composers. Find more details below, including livestream information. And, as always, read to the end for lots of community news!

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!


Seth Brenzel signature

Seth Brenzel
Executive Director

Fiscal Year-End Fundraising

Walden’s fiscal year ends tomorrow, Saturday, September 30

As The Walden School’s fiscal year comes to an end, we are filled with gratitude for the many, many donors who have supported our programs throughout this incredible 50th-anniversay season.

During Walden’s 2023 fiscal year, nearly 400 individuals, families, foundations, and corporations have collectively contributed $343,975 to Walden’s Annual Fund—and counting!

There’s still one day left for us to reach our goal of raising $365,000 by tomorrow, Saturday, September 30. If you haven’t yet given to Walden during the past year (or even if you have!), there’s still time to help us finish the year strong. If you can give online by 11:59 pm Eastern Time tomorrow, or postmark your gift no later than Saturday, September 30, and mail to our office in San Francisco (7 Joost Avenue, Suite 204, San Francisco, CA 94131),  your gift will go toward helping us reach this important fundraising goal.

Donate today




Whether you are an alum, a parent, a local community member, a friend or family member of someone whose life has been positively impacted by Walden, or a new friend who joined us at one of our fundraising events held this year around the country and online—we are so grateful for your support. Everything we do at Walden is made possible by the continuing generosity of our donors. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Donate today

Upcoming Community Event

A concert of new music in Denver (and online!), co-presented by The Walden School

Join members of Walden’s faculty, administration, and board for a special concert at First Universalist Church in Denver, Colorado, tomorrow, Saturday, September 30, at 2:30 pm Mountain Time.

Five Walden-affiliated composers will have works performed by the Wild Beautiful Orchestra, a dynamic collective of professionals and youth. The concert will also feature Kim Robards Dance, a professional modern dance touring company based in Denver.


Graphic promoting Walden concert in Denver on September 30

The Walden composers represented on this concert are Loretta Notareschi (YMP alumna and YMP and CMR faculty member), Bob Bassett (CMR alumnus member of Walden’s Board of Directors), Michael Frank (CMR alumnus), Chase Jordan (CMR alumnus), and Brandon Joung (YMP alumnus). Noah Mlotek, Walden’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations, will also represent Walden at the concert.

All ages are welcome. Tickets are $20 for adults, free for kids. First Universalist Church is an accessible venue with a dedicated parking lot. For tickets, navigate here.

The concert will be livestreamed. Livestream tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.

We hope to see many Walden friends for what promises to be a magical musical afternoon, with a delicious reception sponsored by The Walden School. Come and bring your friends who are interested in learning more about Walden and hearing some fascinating new music!

In the Spotlight

Tuck Crocker and Walden’s fabulous new Steinway

Just in time for Walden’s 50th anniversary—and our 40th summer in residence on the beautiful Dublin School campus, in Dublin, New Hampshire—we were surprised with a wonderful gift that will enrich both the Walden and Dublin communities for years to come.

Augustus T. Crocker, Jr. (known as Tuck), a lifelong Dublin resident, has donated his family’s beautiful Steinway piano to The Walden School. The instrument is a Steinway A3 from about 1915 that has been incredibly well cared for by the Crocker family for generations. Tuck made this special gift in loving memory of Lyneham and Mary Crocker and Augustus Thorndike Crocker, M.D. This instrument will greatly enhance Walden’s Concert Series, presented free of charge every summer in the Dublin School’s Louise Shonk Kelly Recital. Dublin School has agreed to store the instrument and will use it for special occasions during the year.

The piano arrived just before the start of our 50th-Anniversary Walden/Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC) Alumni Reunion. Mackenzie Melemed, a Walden alumnus, gave a breathtaking solo recital, and the piano was also used in our Alumni Composers Forum. While these events were enjoyed by Walden alumni, a public inaugural event is being planned for next summer—stay tuned!

Below, Tuck Crocker shares more about the piano, its history, and his hopes for the instrument’s future at Walden and Dublin.

Above: Mackenzie Melemed performing on the Steinway during this summer’s Walden/JCC Alumni Reunion

How old is the piano, and how did it first come into your family?

The piano was made by Steinway in New York in 1914 or 1915. It was sold as one of a matched pair by Steinert of Boston to my great-grandparents, Dr. and Mrs. Augustus Thorndike, as an engagement gift to my grandparents, Lyneham and Mary Thorndike Crocker, in 1915. It has stayed in the family since it was purchased.

Who in your family played it? What is its significance to you?

The piano was played by my grandparents, my father, Augustus Thorndike Crocker, MD, and his siblings, Eunice (Wold), Evelyn (Querfurth), and Marianne, their uncle, Amory Thorndike, my uncle, Peter M. Hewitt, my brothers, my cousins, and myself, along with people like Louise Shonk Kelly and William S. Palmer, MD.

The piano has always been special to me as a family heirloom and as something that connected my father’s family through music—including three professional musicians (an aunt and two cousins). It’s also special to me because of so many childhood memories: my father playing in the evening when we were going to bed, my father playing four-handed piano with his sisters, long laughing lessons with my father and my uncle Peter Hewitt, family recitals, talented house guests like Louise Shonk Kelly playing with my father, and teaching myself to arrange music and to read charts.

How did your relationship with Walden begin, and why did you think of Walden for this special gift?

My relationship with Walden began when I met Seth after one of the Walden performances at Emmanuel Church in Dublin. My wife and I have supported The Walden School and enjoyed various performances. Due to illness, I’m no longer able to play the piano or to arrange music, and nobody in my family is able to “take on” the instrument. I’m grateful to The Walden School and Dublin School for being able to make use of this special instrument.

What are your hopes for the piano’s future at Walden and Dublin School?

I hope that it makes chamber music at Walden and Dublin School sound great, and that it is useful as a training and learning instrument for serious musicians. My family and I continue to hope that we can enjoy hearing the lovely sound of this instrument in its new home played by talented people who enjoy it!

Mackenzie Melemed on Walden’s new Steinway piano

“It was a pleasure to inaugurate the arrival of a new Steinway to the Walden School campus and into the Walden family. This sensitive and dynamic instrument will not only complement the existing Yamaha and allow for two-piano and larger ensemble collaborations, but it will also provide students with a fantastic opportunity to perform on a world-class instrument. Steinway is truly the gold standard. As a Steinway artist myself, I am thrilled to see that one has been generously donated to Walden and installed in Dublin!”


Community News

Stacy Garrop’s Song of Orpheus premiered

YMP alumna and former faculty member Stacy Garrop was commissioned by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to write a concert opener to celebrate Matthew Kraemer, the orchestra’s new music director. Garrop’s Song of Orpheus was inspired by the Greek myth of the musician Orpheus, from which the orchestra’s performance venue, the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans, takes its name. The work was premiered on September 16 alongside Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to a sold-out theater.

Fay Victor celebrates album release

Fay Victor, a visiting artist at Walden (2022-2023) as part of the International Contemporary Ensemble, performed a concert at New York’s Zurcher Gallery on September 12 to celebrate her new album. Released on Northern Spy Records, Blackity Black Black is Beautiful is the first solo record in Victor’s 30-year music career, which has ranged between house, new music, jazz, and free improvisation. Bandcamp Daily called the album “a bold meditation on race, class, gender, and politics” that “exists within a unique space where poetry, electronic music, and the avant-garde meet.”

Dana Jessen awarded Cleveland Arts Prize

Dana Jessen, a former Walden faculty member and visiting artist as member of The Walden School Players, was one of nine awardees of the 2023 Cleveland Arts Prize, which recognizes exceptional achievements in various artistic disciplines. Jessen is a bassoonist, improviser, and electroacoustic musician whose original compositions, improvisations, and collaborative work have been met with critical acclaim. She serves as Associate Professor of Contemporary Music and Improvisation at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. She hopes that her recognition will give permission for other artists to “think beyond the traditional pathways for their instrument and expand the range of what they can do.” The prize comes with an award of $10,000. Congratulations, Dana!

Eric Huebner named music department chair at SUNY Buffalo

Pianist Eric Huebner, a past Walden visiting artist and member of The Walden School Players, has been named chair of the music department of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he has been on faculty since 2009. Huebner also performs as pianist of the New York Philharmonic, where he holds the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Piano Chair. At the university, he directs a piano studio and teaches courses in 20th-century piano music. Huebner shared his hopes for the growing music department in an article for UBNow.

D. Alan Shewmon performs livestreamed Chopin recital

D. Alan Shewmon, a Junior Conseratory Camp (JCC) alumnus, performed an all-Chopin piano recital at the Harvard Club in Boston on September 10. The livestream of the recital remains available for viewing here. In previous editions of InterNetzo, fellow JCC alums Tamar Bloch and Robin Seto have cited the brilliance of Shewmon’s piano performances as highlights of their memories from JCC. Dr. Shewmon is a neurologist who lives in Plymouth, Maine.

International Contemporary Ensemble performs and records George Lewis

Next month, the International Contemporary Ensemble will perform works by George Lewis and release a recording of his first opera. Lewis, the ensemble’s artistic director, has been composer-in-residence at both of Walden’s programs, and ensemble members are frequent visiting artists at Walden. On October 5, the ensemble will present a concert of Lewis’s works entitled “Hearing Voices” at Roulette in Brooklyn. The concert will be livestreamed free of charge. Also in October, the International Contemporary Ensemble will release a recording of Lewis’s Afterword: An Opera in Two Acts, based on Lewis’s history of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

Danny Felsenfeld and Eve Beglarian awarded MacDowell Fellowships

Among the latest round of MacDowell Fellows are Daniel Felsenfeld, a former Walden faculty member, and Eve Beglarian, a past composer-in-residence at both of Walden’s programs. MacDowell, the nation’s oldest artist residency program, is located near Walden’s summer home in the Monadnock region of New Hampshire, and Walden students make an annual visit to MacDowell to meet with composer fellows at the residency program. Fellowships are awarded to talented artists working in multiple disciplines, and Daniel and Eve join a long line of Walden alumni, faculty, and visiting artists to receive one of these coveted fellowships.

Riley Ferretti work programmed by Washington Master Chorale

A choral work by CMR alumna Riley Ferretti, originally composed for Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) last summer, has been programmed by the Washington Master Chorale for its upcoming winter concert. Dona Nobis Pacem was premiered at CMR in June and will be performed on December 10 by the Chorale under its artistic director, Thomas Colohan, who serves as choral conductor at CMR. This is not the first time Colohan has programmed works discovered at Walden; last fall, no fewer than five Walden-affiliated composers were featured on the chorale’s “Autumn Harvest” concert.

Montana Rogers starts new position as head librarian

Montana Rogers, a Young Musicians Program (YMP) alumna and former staff member, has started a new position as Upper School Head Librarian at St. Christopher’s School in Richmond, Virginia. Rogers is a writer and librarian whose work has appeared in Yankee Magazine, published from Walden’s summer home in Dublin, New Hampshire.

Freya Zaheer and Whit Bernard welcome new baby

Congratulations to YMP alumnus and former faculty member Whit Bernard and his wife, Freya Zaheer, on the arrival of their third child, Kaiyan. Welcome, baby Kai!

We want to hear from you!

What’s been going on? If you have a recent or upcoming premiere, publication, award, new job or program, or a celebratory life event, please share the news at waldenschool.org/contact.

Stay in Touch

You can like The Walden School page on Facebook and join The Walden School private group to hear about events and opportunities throughout the year. You can also find us on InstagramTwitterYouTubebandcamp, and at waldenschool.org.

A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program
A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program


Reflecting on the 2023 Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR)

Reflecting on the 2023 Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR)

Carrie MalloneeFrom Caroline Mallonee, Director of CMR

The Walden School held another successful Creative Musicians Retreat this year. We were thrilled to return to Brewster Academy, whose stunning buildings in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, overlook Lake Winnipesaukee. Almost 40 participants between 19 and 89 years old enrolled in the retreat and joined together to form a warm community.

We performed music by Pauline Oliveros indoors and out, and we sang every day in the boathouse under the direction of Thomas Colohan. We heard 37 world premieres on Composers Forums, which were moderated by the amazingly talented and generous Amy Beth Kirsten. Our curriculum was as robust as ever (thanks to D. J. Sparr, Osnat Netzer, Renée Favand-See, Sam Pluta, and Alex Christie), and included pedagogy and musicianship classes, seminars on contemporary topics, and four different electronic music classes. There was more chamber music at CMR than ever, including music by György Kurtág and Igor Stravinsky, as well as faculty members Sam Pluta and Caroline Mallonee and past Walden composer-in-residence George Lewis.

Above: The amazing 2023 CMR faculty and staff
Above: The amazing 2023 CMR faculty and staff
Chorus in the boathouse with Thomas Colohan
Chorus in the boathouse with Thomas Colohan
A Composers Forum moderated by Amy Beth Kirsten and Caroline Mallonee
A Composers Forum moderated by Amy Beth Kirsten and Caroline Mallonee

We welcomed back veteran artists-in-residence David Friend (piano), Bonnie Whiting (percussion), and members of the International Contemporary Ensemble Josh Modney (violin) and Dan Lippel (guitar). And we were happy to welcome three members of the International Contemporary Ensemble to Walden for the first time: Rachel Beetz (flute), Jacqui Kerrod (harp), and Nicolee Kuester (horn). In addition to performing pieces on the Opening Concert and the Composers Forums, these incredible performers coached chamber groups, offered private lessons, and gave workshops. We were glad to have Teresa McCollough give two workshops on extended piano techniques. Participants even learned how to make their own “bows” for bowing inside the piano!

The 2023 CMR Artists-in-Residence
The 2023 CMR Artists-in-Residence

Some people said it was the best CMR ever! (Some people say this every year.) Director of Operations Sammi Stone and her amazing staff team (Francesca Hellerman, Luke Schroeder, Paul Zito, and Technical Director Ted Moore) ensured that everything ran smoothly. There were epic ping-pong matches, memorable fireside sing-alongs, and wacky and wonderful open mic performances.

We started CMR so that people of all ages could enjoy the unique musical community that Walden offers, and we are so happy to have realized that dream once again. I can’t wait for next year!

Renée Favand-See leads a Musicianship class
Renée Favand-See leads a Musicianship class
Students in an Electronic Music class
Students in an Electronic Music class

With best wishes,

Caroline Mallonee
Director, The Walden School Creative Musicians Retreat

eNews: InterNetzo – June 2023

Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Seth Brenzel headshot

Dear Walden friend,

Summer is here! The start of our programs is just around the corner, with our Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) beginning on June 10th in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, followed by our Young Musicians Program (YMP), which starts on June 24 in Dublin, New Hampshire. I can’t wait to hear the amazing sounds our students and participants will create at Walden this summer!

I am also incredibly excited to invite you to join us at our 50th-anniversary Walden/JCC Alumni Reunion in Dublin, New Hampshire, over the weekend of August 4 to 6. Registration is open on our website, along with a schedule of activities and more information about this very special celebration. Early-bird discounts are available, so sign up today!

There are just a few spots left in our 2023 Young Musicians Program (YMP) and Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR). Applications are being considered on a rolling basis, so apply now and spread the word to any creative musicians who may be interested in learning more about Walden! Read on for more information.

I wish you a fun-filled and relaxing summer, and I hope to connect with you at a Walden program or reunion soon!

Seth Brenzel signature

Seth Brenzel
Executive Director

Alumni Reunion: August 4-6

Please join us for a milestone reunion celebrating The Walden School’s 50th anniversary and 70 years since the founding of the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), Walden’s predecessor program.

Registration is now open on our website! There is a two-step process for signing up:

  • Fill out a brief form to let us know you’re interested in attending—no commitment required.
  • You will then receive a link to complete your registration and pay online. Early-bird discounts are available: sign up by June 24 (the start of camp!) to receive a $100 discount on your registration!

Visit our reunion webpage to learn more about this wonderful opportunity to experience a bit of the Walden/JCC magic once again. The reunion is open to all alumni of our programs, which includes former students, faculty, staff, board members, and visiting artists. Spouses, children, and guests are welcome, too! Enjoy a weekend filled with music workshops, choral singing, concerts, hiking, swimming, festive meals, and more.

Fundraising Events

A recap of Walden’s May celebrations

Last month, Walden hosted two spectacular fundraisers in New York and Washington, DC. Between the two events, more than 125 people gathered to celebrate Walden’s 50th anniversary and to support our student scholarships and world-class artist residencies. We are so grateful to our host committees and all our event donors, who collectively contributed $23,640, bringing Walden’s 2023 summer that much closer. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

If you would like to make a contribution, it’s not too late! You are welcome to donate online or send a check to The Walden School at 7 Joost Avenue, Suite 204, San Francisco, CA 94131.

Donate today

On May 7 in New York, we gathered at the beautiful Salmagundi Club in Greenwich Village. Acclaimed jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut gave a riveting improvised performance and shared inspiring remarks about the creative process. Cyrus Chestnut is a Walden School alumnus, and we were honored to have his artistry at this special Walden celebration.

Cyrus Chestnut performs at the Salmagundi Club (photo courtesy Meade Bernard)

Left: Cyrus Chestnut with fellow Walden alum Patricia Hurley Scotti (photo courtesy Patricia Hurley Scotti); Right: Guests enjoy a feasting table from Edenopolis Events

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On May 13 in Washington, DC, we were hosted at the historic DACOR Bacon House just steps from the White House. Pianist Pedja Mužijević, a former Walden faculty member, performed a richly varied selection of works—ranging from Haydn, Schumann, and Chopin to Morton Feldman and George Crumb—on a historic Steinway that was selected by Arthur Rubinstein. Between pieces, he reminisced about his time at Walden, where he was impressed with how the School’s unique curriculum brought out creativity in its students.

Pedja Mužijević after his performance

Left: Mark Ohmacht, Pedja Mužijević, Irene Jacoby, and Walden Board Chair Peter Colohan; Right: Walden Executive Director Seth Brenzel with YMP alumnus Jed Friedman

Donate today

Walden is Hiring!

Join our team

Walden is hiring. We are seeking new teammates to join our creative community, and we hope that you might help spread the word to your friends and colleagues.

We are currently seeking an Administrative Manager (full-time, year-round position in our San Francisco office).

Visit our job postings page to learn more! All positions are open until filled.


Summer 2023 Programs

Apply to Walden today!

There are still a few spots available in our 2023 summer programs. We are accepting applications on a rolling basis until the spots are filled:

Creative Musicians Retreat: June 10 – June 18, 2023, at Brewster Academy, Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (for musicians ages 18–98)

Young Musicians Program: June 24 – July 30, 2023, at Dublin School, Dublin, New Hampshire (for pre-college musicians, ages 9–18)

Application materials for both programs are available on our website.

Community News

Liam Cummins and Charlie Zhong win ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Awards

Congratulations to Walden alumni Liam Cummins and Charlie Zhong, who were selected as winners of 2023 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards! These awards grant cash prizes to concert music composers up to 30 years of age whose works are selected through a juried national competition. Among the judges was Lisa Bielawa, a past Composer-in-Residence at Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR).

Liam Cummins is an alumnus of Walden’s Online Young Musicians Experience (OYME), and his winning composition was Essay for orchestra. Charlie Zhong has attended Walden’s Young Musicians Program (YMP), and he was awarded for his composition Like a Single Star in the Night Sky for orchestra. Charlie also recently received honorable mention in the 2023 BMI Composer Awards, which recognize superior ability in young composers. Congratulations to both of these extraordinary young artists!

Teddy Poll appointed Resident Conductor at Houston Grand Opera

Conductor and composer Teddy Poll, a YMP alumnus, will join the Houston Grand Opera as Resident Conductor during the 2023/4 season, making his debut in performances of Madama Butterfly. In previous seasons, he has appeared as a guest artist at the Juilliard School, as well as in performances and workshops with Opera Philadelphia, the Glimmerglass Festival, Bare Opera, and the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music. Teddy was a Rita E. Hauser Conducting Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Caroline Mallonee releases String Tunes album 

Caroline Mallonee has released a CD recording of her series of works entitled String Tunes, performed by the Buffalo Chamber Players. A YMP alumna and longtime faculty member, Carrie now serves as the program director for Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR). The pieces on String Tunes are for string instruments in unusual tunings. Many of them bear the names of the places where they were composed, including Walden-related sites such as Dublin and Lehmann. The Butterfly Effect was commissioned by Walden for the Spektral Quartet as part of the School’s Faculty Commissioning Project. Congratulations are also due to Carrie for receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award from her high school alma mater, the Friends School of Baltimore.

Sam Pluta awarded Catalyst Award from Johns Hopkins

Longtime Walden faculty member Sam Pluta has won a Catalyst Award from Johns Hopkins University, where he is Associate Professor in Computer Music at the Peabody Institute. The Catalyst Awards honor early-career faculty members at Hopkins with a $75,000 grant to support promising research and creative endeavors. Pluta’s work will focus on the creation of a new set of AI-driven software instruments. Congratulations, Sam!

Claire Chase profiled in the New York Times

Flutist Claire Chase, founder of the International Contemporary Ensemble and a frequent visiting artist at Walden, was the subject of a New York Times profile under the headline “Claire Chase is Changing How People Think of the Flute.” The article referred to Chase as “one of the most enterprising and imaginative musicians in her field,” and it highlighted her multiyear “Density 36” commissioning project, which is being celebrated with upcoming concerts and a box set of recordings. The article included quotes from George Lewis and Marcos Balter, both of whom have been Composer-in-Residence at both of Walden’s programs.

Amelia Lukas collaborates on SoundsTruck NW concert series

Former Walden staff member and board member Amelia Lukas has co-curated a new outdoor concert series in Portland, Oregon. The concert series, which was profiled in the Oregonian, will be presented by SoundsTruck NW, a mobile performance venue in a custom-built trailer. The site-specific concerts will take place in different locations around Portland, including one that will feature Lukas performing on flute. Lukas is the founder and principal of Aligned Artistry, a public relations consulting firm specializing in arts representation in the Pacific Northwest region.

Joel St. Julien partners with Third Coast Percussion

CMR alumnus and YMP parent Joel St. Julien has been selected as a Currents Creative Partner by Third Coast Percussion for their 2023/4 season. St. Julien is a Haitian-American composer, musician, songwriter, and sound artist based in San Francisco. He has written music for documentaries, films, podcasts, and dance. The Currents Creative Partnership is an opportunity offered by Third Coast Percussion to collaborate with innovative music creators who are at the beginning of their careers, have less experience writing music for percussion, or are looking to expand their creative work in new directions. Congratulations, Joel!

Nate May collaborates with All-Abilities Music Creation Project

Former YMP faculty member Nate May has participated in a unique collaboration sponsored by Legacy Arts International. The All-Abilities Music Creation Project was designed for gifted music students whose educational needs are not being met due to factors which could include a disability, lack of representation in the field, or other unmet needs. The project pairs world-class composers with music students to create new musical compositions that will emphasize their unique strengths, interests and/or cultural heritage. Nate was paired with a 13-year old pianist named Adam, for whom he composed The Hearer, which the young student will perform on June 4. Nate said he wanted to write a piece that captured Adam’s sunny disposition, love of jazz, and interest in the Marvel super hero movies.

We want to hear from you!

What’s been going on? If you have a recent or upcoming premiere, publication, award, new job or program, or a celebratory life event, please share the news at waldenschool.org/contact.

Stay in Touch

You can like The Walden School page on Facebook and join The Walden School private group to hear about events and opportunities throughout the year. You can also find us on InstagramTwitterYouTubebandcamp, and at waldenschool.org.

A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program
A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program

In the Spotlight: Tamar Bloch on Walden/JCC reunions

In the Spotlight

Tamar Bloch on Walden/JCC reunions

Tamar Bloch

Tamar Bloch was a student during the last four summers (1969–1972) of the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), the predecessor program to The Walden School. Tamar went on to teach at Walden for many summers between 1975 and 2004, and she has also attended Walden’s Teacher Training Institute (TTI). Tamar is a longtime champion of JCC and Walden’s distinctive pedagogy, and she is a beloved presence in the lives of generations of Walden students. She lives in Rhinebeck, New York, with her husband, musicologist Peter Laki.

Here, Tamar shares reflections on Walden and JCC while looking forward to the Walden/JCC reunion that will be held the weekend of August 4–6 in Dublin, New Hampshire. This reunion will celebrate Walden’s 50th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of the founding of JCC by Mrs. Grace Newsom Cushman. Join us this summer to reconnect with Tamar and other wonderful Walden and JCC alums!

On her experience at JCC and Walden

I was a student in the last four summers at JCC. Going to JCC and teaching at Walden laid the groundwork for a lot of things in my life. It really informed my approach to teaching and listening, and it opened my ears to new music. When I was 16 or 17 at JCC, we analyzed Crumb’s Ancient Voices of Children, which today might not seem so radical. But in the early 70s, that was radical. We were weirdos in high school; I was interested in Schoenberg. At JCC I found my people. That’s what Walden and JCC are about, finding your people and this way of teaching that opens you up.

From left to right, Andrea Loukin, Ellen Hoffman, Georgia Cushman (holding ferns), Humphrey Evans, and Tamar Bloch at JCC (photo courtesy Tamar Bloch)

On relationships formed at JCC and Walden

There’s also the social aspect; dealing with people who you might have differences with. And there’s a mentoring aspect to the relationship with students, which is a 24-hour relationship—except when you sleep! There’s a deep level of caring and respect. There are so many people who were my students, and then they were my colleagues, and now quite a few of them have become very successful professionally. It’s very heartwarming to see that.

I’m still in touch with many of the people I knew from JCC: Ellen Hoffman (my husband, Peter, and I just took a class with her via Zoom and it was just fabulous); my former roommates Robin Seto, in Hawaii, and Sheree Clement, in Jackson Heights, New York; Jeff Cohen, who’s in Paris; and Matt Hunter, who is a violist in the Berlin Philharmonic. And Marilyn Crispell lives 20 minutes from me, so we see each other. I think it’s extraordinary that that these friendships still continue through the decades. When I lived in Hungary, Walden was home for me when I would come back to teach in the summers. And I think a lot of people feel that way.

Walden student Shayla Cheeks with Tamar at Walden

On Grace Newsom Cushman, the founder of JCC

Mrs. Cushman (at right) after a forum at JCC (photo credit: Dr. Edward Max)

To me, it’s just amazing that one woman started this all in the 1950s. She just loaded these kids on a bus from Baltimore and went up to Vermont. How crazy is that? No one did that. And the curriculum she wrote is just phenomenal. It’s open enough so that the curriculum stays fundamentally the same, but it can be changed. Which is incredibly hard to do. She really was quite revolutionary. I’ve always thought she could be the subject of a book or dissertation.

What Mrs. Cushman created at JCC is now an intentional community at Walden. The same gestalt lives on. The idea of having a beautiful place to live away from the hubbub of the city is part of it. You’re up here for a certain number of weeks out of the summer.

On Walden/JCC reunions

I’ve been to three or four reunions. At the last one I attended, there were some wonderful classes. I remember Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy did an impromptu workshop on Indian music and dance. The dances were great, and the Composers Forums—I actually moderated one or two. But it’s mainly the music making and camaraderie that are so special.

I also enjoyed meeting people from JCC that I’d never met because I was in the last bunch. It was great to talk with the previous generation of JCCers who had the same memories of Mrs. Cushman as I did. At the Zoom reunion a couple of years ago, I remember we talked about how none of us has ever thrown out anything which Mrs. C sent to us—a lot of which I’m finding now that I’m clearing out my apartment. So there’s a real connection. And I don’t know that that exists at all summer music programs.

Tamar Bloch, David Drucker, and Flora Cushman at the 2007 Walden/JCC reunion (photo courtesy David Drucker)

Remembering those we’ve lost

At a reunion, it’s also important to honor the people who have died, like Lance Reddick, whom I was really looking forward to seeing. Lance was a student and colleague at Walden. I knew him when he was a teenager. There’s David Hogan, there’s Flora and Georgia Cushman, Lynn Taylor Hebden, Paul Nauert, and John and Marianne Weaver. And more recently we lost Peter Krag.

Humphrey Evans III was a student and on faculty at JCC, and he sadly died in 1982. He was my teacher and mentor and just an off-the-charts musician. I found an analysis we did together of the Eroica, and his handwritten manuscript was just gorgeous. Now there’s someone named David Victor Feldman who’s gathering Humphrey’s recordings and scores and documenting his life. I recently did an interview with him about Humphrey. It’s important to remember these extraordinary people.

Why you should come to the Walden/JCC reunion!

The Walden School sign at the Mountain School, Walden’s home campus from 1976 to 1982

It’s a milestone reunion for Walden and for JCC. And it could also be the last time that some people might be able to make it there. Because you know, there’s not a reunion every year. So I think it’s very important to connect. And it’s always different in person than on Zoom; it’s multidimensional in person. I hope people from near and far will make the trip to celebrate this landmark and to share memories and experiences. I think it’s very important.

In the Spotlight: Rita Lewis and Ofurhe Igbinedion

In the Spotlight

Rita Lewis and Ofurhe Igbinedion

Rita Lewis and Ofurhe Igbinedion

Ofurhe Igbinedion attended the Young Musicians Program (YMP) from 1999 through 2001. She recently completed a PhD in Geography at the University of California at Davis and works as a transportation planner for the Oakland Department of Transportation.

Her mother, Rita Lewis, has worked as a Registered Nurse for 30 years. She lives in Emeryville, California.

Veda Igbinedion, Ofurhe’s brother and Rita’s son, also attended YMP for one summer. He works as an attorney in the U.S. Army JAG Corps.

Rita and Ofurhe are longtime donors to Walden, and they both have set up recurring gifts through Walden’s online donation platform.

How did you and your family first get involved with Walden?

Ofurhe: My first year at the Young Musicians Program (YMP) was 1999. My brother, Veda, had gone the year before me. I remember being impressed when Veda came home from Walden with a piece of music that he wrote. I just thought it was like the coolest thing. I didn’t realize that was something you could do, you know?

I did piano and ballet, and I had been to Interlochen in my fourth-grade summer. And then I went to Walden the summer after that. I went to Walden for three summers. In high school I ended up going to boarding school in Vermont, not far from the Dublin School. So I feel like Walden kind of prepared me for boarding school.

Our summers were always filled with academic camps. Coming from a family with a single mom who was working, we had to do something in the summers. And I’m a nerd. I love school, but over the summers I got to choose which subjects I wanted to spend more time with. And I can’t spend enough time playing music.

Rita: I first learned about Walden by seeing a poster at the former Tupper & Reed music store in Berkeley. When my son, Veda, went, he was the youngest kid there at age ten. He had a wonderful time and came home with his first composition. His first week at Walden he went to the music store, and the first CD he bought was of Thelonious Monk in Paris, and I thought: I have the coolest kid! That’s what first established our family’s relationship with Walden.

I also want to mention that Walden has always been very generous with us and given financial aid. I was a single parent with two kids, and I feel very, very grateful and responsible to pay that forward to the extent I can. I just can’t say enough about how Walden has augmented my children’s musical education, especially in giving them choral singing experience. Veda was involved in choral singing from a very young age and went on to sing in a cappella groups in high school and at Williams College, which has a wonderful music program. And when Ofurhe was at the University of Chicago, which can be cold and grim at times, she was in the choir. I went to visit her there and saw the room that they practice in. It’s this beautiful old wood-paneled room with leaded glass ivy in the windows. And I just thought how wonderful it was that she could do this every day. I feel like that gift was very much established from her experience at Walden, not to mention the friendships that she made.

Ofurhe: That’s totally true. Pretty much all of my college social life was from Motet Choir. When I went to audition, being able to say that I had experience with movable-do solfege from Walden, I was able to breeze through the audition. I had to sight-read something, and when I made a mistake, the director told me I could actually go through it using solfege. And then I was able to sing through it, because I knew the intervals. All of my musicianship that has stuck with me is from what I learned at Walden.

Rita Lewis, Veda Igbinedion, and Ofurhe Igbinedion

What are some highlights of your time at Walden or of Walden’s impact on your life?

Ofurhe: One of the biggest things about Walden, aside from the musicianship, is the friendships. My two best friends there were Hamilton Sims and Marguerite Ladd. They were the best, and we were pretty inseparable when we were there. We took all our courses together and would spend all our time together. And between summers, we would e-mail and use AOL Instant Messenger. So just like Walden musicianship made me a good musician, I feel like my friendships from Walden made me a good friend. They taught me to navigate friendships across the country. That was really tricky and I think we got pretty good at it, and that’s something that has been really helpful for me.

Rita: With both my kids, Walden helped them have this comfort level with being away from home and cultivated their independence. Anyone I know with a kid who’s like musically inclined, I tell them to check this out. I’m always telling people Walden has been the greatest thing for our family. My kids went to boarding school. They went away to college, and they’re such good travelers. I just can’t say enough good things about Walden to people I encounter, and in fact just the other day I forwarded the info sessions that are coming up to several people. And I’m very fond of Seth and Malcolm. I’ve known them for a long time.

Ofurhe: I remember we helped them stuff envelopes for Walden fundraising appeals.

Why do you give to Walden, and why give a recurring gift?

Ofurhe: We got a lot of financial aid, and I want to be able to pay that forward. I did a lot of academic camps, I just finished a PhD at UC Davis, and so I’ve had a lot of school and I get a lot of alumni giving appeals, and I don’t always pay them much attention. But when Walden comes around, I feel like I need this institution to survive. It was really important to me, and I want other people to have that.

Rita: I just feel so warm and fuzzy about Walden, and I’m a little jealous that I never got to go there. I hope that we will go as a family sometime to experience Walden together. So I just have nothing but fond feelings, and I feel so fortunate that I happened to see that poster at Tupper & Reed, which isn’t even there anymore.

eNews: InterNetzo – October 2022

Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Seth Brenzel headshot

Dear Walden friend,

Happy Halloween! Fall is in the air, and we are starting to plan another wonderful Walden summer in 2023 while looking back with gratitude on the summer past.

I hope you enjoy this spooky edition of InterNetzo, which celebrates our fiscal year-end fundraising efforts, looks ahead to Walden holiday parties, and features the diabolically inventive Walden tradition of Halloween in July. Plus, catch up on some dreadfully exciting community news.

I wish you a fun-filled and frightful Halloween, and I hope our paths cross again soon—perhaps in some haunted wood!


Seth Brenzel signature

Seth Brenzel
Executive Director
(603) 563-8212

Walden Holiday Parties

The holiday season is just around the corner! Walden community members will be gathering for holiday potlucks in cities throughout the country in December and January. Look for an email announcement of dates and cities soon, and if you are interested in hosting a party in your area or want to learn more in the meantime about these upcoming gatherings, please write to us at alumni@waldenschool.org. We are so grateful to the many volunteers who have hosted Walden holiday parties over the years.

Fiscal Year-End Fundraising

Walden’s fiscal year ended on September 30. Over the year, the Annual Fund raised more than $337,000 from 434 individuals, families, and institutions, including 95 new donors. Thank you. We are inspired by your generosity, and we are grateful for the transformative experiences of music and community you make possible.

If you missed the deadline, don’t worry—it’s never too late to support Walden! You can always make a gift online or mail a check to our office:

The Walden School
7 Joost Avenue, Suite 204
San Francisco, CA 94131

Happy Halloween. . . In October

From Kittie Cooper, Director of De(Composers) Forums

We asked Young Musicians Program (YMP) faculty member Kittie Cooper to tells us about Halloween in July, a beloved YMP tradition that she introduced six years ago.

Halloween in July is one of those beautiful days at Walden that bring out peak levels of wackiness in the community. It’s always a surprise when it’ll happen—some space is just decorated on campus for the students to discover. They then have the afternoon to come up with costumes while the offices are converted into a haunted house for students to trick-or-treat in later. The decorating is done secretly, under the cover of some complicated and blatantly fictional story that keeps the students away (this year, spiders had nested up in the offices and needed to be relocated).

Halloween in July is one of Walden’s more recent traditions—the first one was in 2016 and we’ve had one every year since (even 2020 when Walden was online). Some faculty and staff were talking about how we have winter holidays in July, and we were kidding around that we should have Halloween in July.

I really wanted it to happen though, because it sounded awesome and very summer-campy, so I kept bringing it up and asking people to help so we could make it happen. I convinced Sam Pluta to suggest Halloween as one of the musicianship frolic themes (which ended up being “Welcome to the Hallolympic Games” or some such), because then I knew we’d at least have some Halloween decorations to start with. People were honestly so trusting that year—I still can’t believe they just let us take over the offices and jumped right in to running around decorating things.

The rooms of the haunted house change every year, and are always a mix of spooky, scary, funny, nerdy, and just plain beautiful. This year two rooms that were on the particularly beautiful side of things were the hidden room of rainbows and unicorns (and other glittery, happy things curated by Rebekah Griffin Greene), and the room of 12-tone solfege bots (where Francesca Hellerman made a Max patch that randomly generated tone rows for the students to solfege). We also had a jump scare hallway with a bunch of DIY synths and lights (thanks to Alex Christie), and a room of planned obsolescence (featuring antiquated Walden merch and technology, dreamed up by Theo Trevisan), and there were many more stand-outs that I’d love to list but then this would be too long! My favorite thing about Halloween is that it’s always a group effort, and you get to see people’s personalities and senses of humor coming out in their own unique ways—just through costumes and decorations. And the Walden students are of course extremely clever, so they come up with some really amazingly original (and spooky, and hilarious) stuff every year.






Community News

Washington Master Chorale performs Walden composers
No fewer than five Walden-affiliated composers had works premiered by the Washington Master Chorale on its October 23 “Autumn Harvest” concert in Washington, DC. The Chorale is a mixed chorus of 60 professional and volunteer singers led by Artistic Director Tom Colohan, who has been the choral conductor at Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) for several summers. The composers and pieces featured were Bob Bassett, CMR alumnus and member of Walden’s Board of Directors, with Chinook; Caroline Mallonee, YMP alumna, longtime faculty member, and current CMR director, with Morning Porch and two selections from Wind Songs; and CMR alumni Drew Kravin (Redwood Tree) and Dan Maguire (“October-November” from Falls Like Slow Rain). Tom Colohan’s composition Make Me an Instrument was also performed. Congratulations to all!

Lukáš Janata’s prizewinning composition premiered
Catch, a new composition for orchestra by CMR alumnus and YMP faculty member Lukáš Janata, was premiered by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) Orchestra and conductor Edwin Outwater. Lukáš’s work was the winning composition in SFCM’s 2021 Highsmith Competition. Lukáš graduated from SFCM in 2019 and now teaches composition there. He calls the piece “a contemplative, urgent, and lamenting work, that delivers a reflection, reconciliation, and imploration for humane values.” Watch the performance here or listen here along with the score.

Sarah Riskind featured on Illinois Public Media
Former YMP faculty member and choral director Sarah Riskind was interviewed by Illinois Public Media about her upcoming concert with the Baroque Artists of Champaign–Urbana (BACH), of which she is the music director. The concert will feature Dietrich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri and Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands, a 2016 work that responds to Buxtehude. As Sarah explains, “since one of my primary goals as the Music Director of BACH is to use Baroque music as a foundation for exploring a more diverse collection of works, I resolved to build a program out of these two deeply connected pieces separated by 336 years.”

Lei Liang and Mivos Quartet
Past CMR visiting ensemble Mivos Quartet premiered Six Seasons by Lei Liang, a past YMP and CMR composer-in-residence. The work, for string quartet and electronics, was commissioned by Mivos and written in collaboration with scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, who collected recordings from the floor of the Chukchi Sea in the Arctic. The title refers to the six seasons observed by Nunavut indigenous communities based on hunting and migration patterns. The concert took place on October 15 at the University of California at San Diego, where Lei is a professor of music. The project was featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Photo: Lei Liang and oceanographer Joshua Jones

Rebekah Griffin Greene collaborates with Poet Laureate of Alabama on piece honoring Harriet Tubman
YMP faculty member Rebekah Griffin Greene has collaborated with Ashley M. Jones, the Poet Laureate of Alabama, on Hymn for Harriet’s Hands, a work for orchestra and poet inspired by the life of Harriet Tubman. The piece was premiered on October 21 by young musicians from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, along with Jones, who spoke her poetry together with the music.

Photo: Rebekah Griffin Greene and Ashley M. Jones

Judith Temkin Irvine honored by Bryn Mawr School
JCC alumna Judith Temkin Irvine was honored by her alma mater, Baltimore’s Bryn Mawr School, with the school’s Senior Alumna Award. Judith is an anthropologist recognized for her work on language and communication in social, cultural, and historical context, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. She has taught at Brandeis University and the University of Michigan. She is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship. Congratulations, Judy!

New film and book from Alicia Jo Rabins
Last month saw the release of two creative projects from YMP alumna Alicia Jo Rabins. Her film A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff is a hybrid of musical memoir and narrative fantasy that explores the dangers of capitalism and perfectionism through the story of Bernie Madoff. Its premiere in Portland, Oregon, was covered in Willamette Week, and it is now available for streaming. In addition, Alicia’s book of short personal essays about early parenthood and Jewish spirituality, Even God Had Bad Parenting Days, is now available for purchase.

Welcome to Marguerite Ladd’s daughter 
Walden alumna and former staff and faculty member Marguerite Ladd announces the birth of her daughter, Arda Earle Ladd, coming in at 9 pounds and 12 ounces and 22 inches long. Welcome Arda!




We want to hear from you!

What's been going on? If you have a recent or upcoming premiere, publication, award, new job or program, or a celebratory life event, please share the news at waldenschool.org/contact.

Stay in Touch

You can like The Walden School page on Facebook and join The Walden School private group to hear about events and opportunities throughout the year. You can also find us on InstagramTwitterYouTubebandcamp, and at waldenschool.org.

A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program
A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program



Halloween in July

Happy Halloween. . . In October

From Kittie Cooper, Director of De(Composers) Forums

We asked Young Musicians Program (YMP) faculty member Kittie Cooper to tells us about Halloween in July, a beloved YMP tradition that she introduced six years ago:

Halloween in July is one of those beautiful days at Walden that bring out peak levels of wackiness in the community. It’s always a surprise when it’ll happen—some space is just decorated on campus for the students to discover. They then have the afternoon to come up with costumes while the offices are converted into a haunted house for students to trick-or-treat in later. The decorating is done secretly, under the cover of some complicated and blatantly fictional story that keeps the students away (this year, spiders had nested up in the offices and needed to be relocated).

Halloween in July is one of Walden’s more recent traditions—the first one was in 2016 and we’ve had one every year since (even 2020 when Walden was online). Some faculty and staff were talking about how we have winter holidays in July, and we were kidding around that we should have Halloween in July.

I really wanted it to happen though, because it sounded awesome and very summer-campy, so I kept bringing it up and asking people to help so we could make it happen. I convinced Sam Pluta to suggest Halloween as one of the musicianship frolic themes (which ended up being “Welcome to the Hallolympic Games” or some such), because then I knew we’d at least have some Halloween decorations to start with. People were honestly so trusting that year—I still can’t believe they just let us take over the offices and jumped right in to running around decorating things.

The rooms of the haunted house change every year, and are always a mix of spooky, scary, funny, nerdy, and just plain beautiful. This year two rooms that were on the particularly beautiful side of things were the hidden room of rainbows and unicorns (and other glittery, happy things curated by Rebekah Griffin Greene), and the room of 12-tone solfege bots (where Francesca Hellerman made a Max patch that randomly generated tone rows for the students to solfege). We also had a jump scare hallway with a bunch of DIY synths and lights (thanks to Alex Christie), and a room of planned obsolescence (featuring antiquated Walden merch and technology, dreamed up by Theo Trevisan), and there were many more stand-outs that I’d love to list but then this would be too long! My favorite thing about Halloween is that it’s always a group effort, and you get to see people’s personalities and senses of humor coming out in their own unique ways—just through costumes and decorations. And the Walden students are of course extremely clever, so they come up with some really amazingly original (and spooky, and hilarious) stuff every year.




eNews: InterNetzo – September 2022

Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Seth Brenzel headshot

Dear Walden friend,

Walden’s 50th summer has come to a close. It was a joyous one, filled with close mentorship, artistic collaborations, inspired music-making, and creative growth for nearly 100 students ages 9 to 88(!) at our Young Musicians Program (YMP) and Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR). More than 150 original works of music composed by Walden students were premiered on our Concert Series, which was offered free of charge to the public and livestreamed online.

I hope you enjoy this September edition of InterNetzo, which includes a recap of our 2022 YMP, a look at our successful summer fundraising events, a roundup of changes on Walden’s Board of Directors, and lots of community news.

Plus, Friday, September 30 is the last day of Walden’s fiscal year. Please consider making a gift to our Annual Fund today, so that these amazing summer programs can continue to thrive for generations of creative musicians to come. This year’s community of nearly 400 donors (and counting!) made Walden 2022 possible. We simply could not have done what we did this summer without our donors’ loyal and generous contributions. On behalf of the entire Walden community, I am so very grateful.

Best wishes,

Seth Brenzel signature

Seth Brenzel
Executive Director
(603) 563-8212

Reflecting on the 2022 Young Musicians Program (YMP)

From Seth Brenzel, Executive Director and Director of YMP

What a summer we had! Walden’s Young Musicians Program (YMP) was by many accounts a smashing success. During 2022, 14 teaching faculty, 8 staff, 3 nurses, and 47 students from across the United States, about 50% of whom were themselves alumni of YMP, enjoyed five weeks (or in some cases three weeks) of summer fun, creativity, chorus, musicianship classes, Composers Forums, concerts, and so much more. They composed inventive, exciting music; attended three classes each day (from a schedule of nearly 30 classes); sang in chorus led by our chorus director Kari Francis; created a remarkable musical and artistic community; and made some friends for life. 25 visiting artists presented 24 concerts, composer presentations, open rehearsals, and Composers Forums, during which dozens of exciting new pieces written by our imaginative students were premiered.

A classroom with students at the Young Musicians Program.

Students take a break on the porch at the Young Musicians Program.






We had a lot of fun along the way: five dances, five open mics, one slide show, one fancy dinner on the last night, three mountain hikes (one was cancelled due to heat!), one “heat-out” Saturday excursion to an ice-skating rink, one weekend of bouncy house, one dunk tank (yours truly was dunked by four different students and staff!), one spirited game of Gold Rush, one Halloween-in-July (complete with Haunted House—thank you, Kittie, Alex, and team!), one non-denominational-celebration-and-gift-exchange-in-July, more than a dozen swim trips to Dublin Lake and Greenfield State Park, Fourth of July games including the long-awaited (by me!) return of the egg toss and an epic treasure hunt, one visit to Dublin School’s Perkin Observatory to gaze at the amazing New Hampshire night sky, and dozens of incredible meals prepared by the superlative Dublin School dining staff.

It was a summer to remember, for sure. All of our concerts and Composers Forums—for the first time ever—were both livestreamed and open to the public, all free of charge. One parent of a YMP student remarked that Walden 2022 was “as close to a perfect summer for a young creative as one could ask for.” We hope to see you (or your student or cousin or neighbor or child) at Walden 2023(!), for which we are planning in earnest and about which we are already dreaming . . .

Fiscal Year End Fundraising Drive

Walden’s fiscal year ends on September 30—this Friday! That means we have less than a week to reach our Annual Fund goal of $395,000. We are getting close, and we need your help.

Donate Today

Thank you to the nearly 400 individuals and families who have contributed to Walden’s Annual Fund during the current fiscal year. If you haven’t given yet this year, please join us. Every gift counts and makes a tremendous impact on our community.

To have your contribution to Walden’s annual fund included in this fiscal year, make a gift online until 11:59pm PDT on September 30, or mail a check (postmarked by September 30) to our office:

The Walden School
7 Joost Avenue, Suite 204
San Francisco, CA 94131

Summer Fundraising Events

Walden’s loyal community of supporters turned out in force for three wonderful fundraising events this summer.

Giving Day

July 25 was Walden’s third annual online Giving Day. We were overjoyed to share a day at the Young Musicians Program (YMP) by livestreaming snippets of classes, mealtime blessings, a festival piece rehearsal, and interviews with YMP students as well as Composer-in-Residence Amy Beth Kirsten. The day concluded with a livestream of the first Composers Forum of Festival Week. This virtual event raised $9,241 from 58 individuals and families. Thank you to everyone who participated!

The videos produced on Giving Day are still available for viewing here.

New Hampshire Summer Celebration

On July 30, Walden held its first summer fundraiser in New Hampshire since 2019. Approximately 80 attendees, including YMP parents, Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) alumni, Walden Board members, and New Hampshire community members gathered for a spectacular afternoon of music and refreshments.

First, YMP alumnus Mackenzie Melemed performed a breathtaking piano recital featuring works of Beethoven, Scriabin, and Gottschalk in Dublin’s School’s Louise Shonk Kelly Recital Hall. Then, guests were invited to Windy Knowe, the home of Ellen and Ed Bernard, for a wonderful reception in their newly completed barn. The event raised a total of $12,475 from 34 individuals and families. We are so grateful to Mackenzie, to Ellen and Ed, and to our dedicated host committee for making this such a memorable and successful event.

Seth Brenzel’s 50th Birthday

For his 50th birthday—which coincides with the 50th anniversary year of Walden’s founding—Executive Director Seth Brenzel held a fundraiser on Facebook, which raised a stunning total of $37,041 from more than 50 individuals and families. This was an amazing testament to the love that our community has for Seth and Walden. Thank you to Seth and to all who contributed!

Transitions on Walden’s Board of Directors

In the midst of this summer’s Young Musicians Program (YMP), Walden’s Board of Directors held its first in-person meeting since March 2020, when it last met in person in New York City in the Empire State Building! For two days in July, this group of dedicated volunteers met to work on plans for Walden’s long-term growth and sustainability. Board members also joined the YMP community for a barbecue dinner and a concert by The Walden Schools Players. The weekend was capped off by a celebratory dinner hosted by Charlie and Dede MacVeagh at their home.

As always at the Board’s July meeting, additional directors were welcomed, and new officers were elected. Here is a roundup of the changes:

Board Chair Changes Hands

Rita Mitra has stepped down after 5 years as Walden’s Board chair. Walden owes Rita a debt of gratitude for her tireless and wise leadership during a time of unexpected challenges. Rita will remain on the Board as one of its two vice-chairs. Ever humble about her many contributions, Rita, the mother of YMP alum Danielle Oberdier LeBlanc, says: “I can never pay back what Walden has given my daughter.” Thank you, Rita, for all that you have done and continue to do for Walden.


Taking over as chair is Peter Colohan, a Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) alumnus and a member of Walden’s Board since 2015. Peter is Executive Director of the Internet of Water, a project based at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Congratulations, Peter, on your new leadership role at Walden, and thank you in advance for your service in this important position.


New Board officers

The officers of Walden’s Board of Directors for 2022–23 are as follows:

Chair: Peter Colohan

Vice-Chairs: Rita Mitra and Danielle Schindler Cheung

Treasurer: Steve Messner

Secretary: David Roberts


New board members

JoAnn Balingit
JoAnn is a poet, essayist, and K12 arts-in-education advocate who served as Delaware’s poet laureate from 2008 to 2015. She is a Delaware Division of the Arts teaching artist for Poetry Out Loud, a national high school recitation contest, and teaches poetry and memoir classes for libraries and nonprofits. The recipient of several fellowships and writing recognitions, JoAnn identifies as a next-gen, or 2nd-generation writer whose poems and essays explore cultural memory and loss, family history and parenthood. She lives with her husband Fred Hofstetter and Julian—who has attended both YMP and CMR—in Newark, Delaware, on Leni Lenape tribal homeland. Watching a Composers Forum for the first time in the summer of 2016, JoAnn Balingit was moved and delighted by the confidence, creativity, and sense of belonging everyone radiates at Walden.

Jamie Hamilton
Jamie is passionate about creating communities that thrive in the life of service, generosity, listening, and learning. For twenty years, she was both an educator and administrator at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, teaching religion and philosophy and overseeing the health and welfare of students in her role as dean. Jamie is a past Rector of All Saints Church in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, a summer congregation located next to the Dublin School campus. Jamie is returning to the Walden Board after having served from 2013 to 2016. She lives in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.

David Keller
David Keller, CMT, is Chief Market Strategist at StockCharts.com and President of Sierra Alpha Research LLC, where he helps investors make better decisions using behavioral finance and technical analysis. He is the host of The Final Bar, the daily closing bell show on StockCharts TV, and he relates mindfulness techniques to investor decision making in his blog, The Mindful Investor. David is a classically trained musician and student pilot, and resides in Duvall, Washington, with his wife and two children. David’s perpetual pursuit of musical experiences led him to CMR in 2018, and he has literally not stopped thinking about it ever since.

Kate Valenta
Through her career in arts administration, Kate has worked for the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, where she served as Associate Director of Development. She now lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and daughter. Kate serves as a trustee of the Hoboken Historical Museum and as board chair of the Fund for a Better Waterfront in Hoboken. Kate is honored that Walden has given her the opportunity to be directly involved in the non-profit arts sector again, and to support transformative experiences for young people through music and composition.


Ellen Bernard becomes Director Emerita

It was a bittersweet moment as we bade farewell to Ellen Bernard as a regular Board member, while welcoming her as a Director Emerita. Ellen’s 18 years of service on Walden’s Board of Directors, consisting of two nine-year terms, have been nothing short of extraordinary. As former Board member Molly Pindell said when Ellen stepped down after her first nine-year term, “Her work on the board stands as one of the pillars of Walden’s successful growth over the past decade. Walden has blossomed in such positive ways and Ellen’s guidance of the board was certainly one of the major forces that shaped the path of this growth.” Those statements are even truer today. Walden is enormously grateful for all of Ellen’s service, past, present, and future!

Photo: Rita Mitra (left) and Ellen Bernard at the Board dinner in July.


Ryan Muncy in Memoriam

From Executive Director Seth Brenzel

Walden is a community in grief at the loss of Ryan Muncy, an acclaimed saxophonist, educator, arts administrator, and frequent visiting artist Walden, who passed away in July. Ryan was a dear friend of mine, a dear friend and colleague to so many of us in the Walden community, and an inspirational performer for and mentor to hundreds of Walden students for many years. His passing leaves a big hole in the Walden community. We join with all those who were touched by Ryan’s artistry and dedication over the years in grieving his passing and sending peace and comfort to his family and loved ones.

Ryan first came to Walden as part of Dal Niente in 2013. With Dal Niente, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and The Walden School Players, he was in residence at Walden eight different times. Some people who come to Walden are immediately part of the fabric of the place, and you start to imagine that they literally are Walden, have always been part of Walden, and will always be. Ryan was one such person. He will always be part of Walden, and I’m so grateful to have known him and for all that he gave to me, this community, and our students. Ryan is and will be forever missed.

As a testament to how deeply Ryan touched so many of us at Walden, we share a reflection from Theo Trevisan, a Young Musicians Program (YMP) and Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) alumnus and staff member, who explains the significance of the yellow bat Ryan is holding in the photo above, captured by Composer-in-Residence Marcos Balter around the firepit during CMR 2021:

Back in summer 2014, Ryan was one of The Walden School Players, and Zünder Jones (who had already done several hilarious pranks that summer) had an idea for one more small prank during YMP Festival Week. He decided arbitrarily to create the “Ryan Muncy Fan Club” and gather a bunch of us to prank Ryan by mobbing him at the breakfast line as his fan club (as if we were paparazzi). Funnily enough, the prank primarily consisted of us flash mobbing Ryan at breakfast, and signing the wiffleball bat was only a small part of the idea. Ryan was an extremely good sport about it (especially considering he hadn’t had any coffee yet!), and even though he was confused at what was happening, he signed the bat.

The next summer in 2015, Ryan was back as both a Walden School Player and a member of the International Contemporary Ensemble. I remember checking the rec room for some reason and finding the signed bat among the rest of the wiffleball bats, and I thought it would be hilarious to have him sign the bat again. At the end of that summer, he signed the bat and dated the signature to 2015, and thus a tradition was born. Every subsequent year, Ryan would sign the bat while he was at Walden, and after my last summer as a student in 2017, Sasha Paris-Carter took over as the “Chair” of the Ryan Muncy Fan Club. I believe he signed it every year from 2014 all the way until 2021, when he was in residence at the Creative Musicians Retreat while I was a participant.

Ryan’s graceful response to a bizarre prank, and its subsequent transformation into a Walden tradition, showed Ryan’s extraordinary kindness and good humor. I wrote for Ryan at every opportunity I could after that (four times between 2015 and 2021, more than I wrote for anyone else at Walden) because of his warmth and generosity as well as his amazing musicianship. He was a role model for how the collaborative process should work and how that can tie into communities like Walden, and I strive to approach all of my collaborative endeavors with the professionalism, generosity, and humor that Ryan exemplified. He helped make so many Walden students’ summers excellent and fun.


Community News

Walden at TIME:SPANS
In August, several Walden-affiliated performers and composers were featured at this year’s TIME:SPANS contemporary music festival at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York. Among them: past YMP and current CMR faculty member Sam Pluta’s piece Atens was premiered by Splinter Reeds (an ensemble that includes bassoonist Dana Jessen, a past YMP faculty member and current Walden School Player.) Splinter Reeds, itself a past Walden visiting ensemble, also performed past YMP faculty member Sky Macklay’s piece Choppy, featured on Splinter Reeds’ album Hypothetical Island. Another piece by Sky Macklay, Microvariations, was performed by the Argento New Music Project. Dana Jessen also performed Seismologics, a piece for bassoon and electronics that was written for her by past YMP and CMR Composer-in-Residence George Lewis. Other premieres included phrēn, by past visiting artist and Walden School Player Eric Wubbels, performed by JACK Quartet, and drip music, by past YMP faculty member Katie Balch, performed by Talea Ensemble.

Photo: Sky Macklay and Sam Pluta with the members of Splinter Reeds.

Constantine Darie wins two composition competitions
Constantine Darie, a 2022 YMP student and sophomore at Potsdam Central School in New York, has won two prizes from the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA): one for the Young Composers Honors Concert and another for the Electronic Music Composition Showcase. His compositions Waves and Other Side will be performed at the NYSSMA Winter conference in Rochester, New York, December 1 through 3. An article about the composition of Waves can be found here. Congratulations, Constantine!

Lila Mertezky awarded with Sandbox Percussion’s Creator Mentorship Program
YMP faculty member Lila Meretzky was one of two composers chosen for the inaugural Creator Mentorship Program by Sandbox Percussion. Over the next year, the ensemble will commission a piece from each of these two creators and will bring them to New York City to rehearse, workshop, perform, and record these pieces. Congratulations, Lila!

Nick Benavides’s opera available for streaming
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the one-act opera Tres Minutos, by TTI and CMR alum Nicolas Benavides, is available for viewing in a high-quality video stream until October 15. Also, congratulations to Nick on successfully defending his dissertation to complete his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at USC Thornton School of Music!

Mivos Quartet on NPR
Former CMR ensemble-in-residence Mivos Quartet was featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series, playing works by Robert Honstein and Henry Threadgill. The ensemble is also holding its twelfth Mivos/Kanter String Quartet Commission Prize designed to promote preexisting works of talented emerging composers residing in the United States. The application deadline is October 15.

Anuj Bhutani wins ASCAP award
CMR alumnus Anuj Bhutani won the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award for his piece On Letting Go for cello and electronics. A recording and score are available here. A short video of Anuj speaking about the piece is here. Congratulations, Anuj!


Wendy Griffiths piano works recorded
An album of piano works by CMR alumna Wendy Griffiths is available now on all streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. Featuring pianist Elizabeth Rodgers, the album is entitled Views from the Keyboard.


John Weaver Memorial Organ Concert
An organ concert celebrating the late John Weaver, a JCC alumnus and faculty member, was performed on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ in the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, where John concertized annually for half a century. The concert was performed in August by Richard Elliott, one of John’s students and now principal organist of the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, and it featured two of John’s compositions. He has included two of John’s own compositions. A recording of the concert is available for purchase here, and today is the last day to view it.

Sky Macklay commission premiered
Past YMP faculty member Sky Macklay’s Canon Cadenza Cadence Cluster,  was premiered by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble in Berkeley and San Francisco on September 18 and 19. The commission was made possible by the Chamber Music America Classical Commissioning Program with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The piece features the double bass.

Eric Huebner releases solo piano recording
New Focus Recordings has released Earth: Music for Solo Piano by Stephen Barber, featuring former YMP visiting artist Eric Huebner. Eric is pianist of the New York Philharmonic and a professor of music at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Zach Layton in residence at MacDowell
CMR alumnus Zach Layton, a guitarist, composer, curator, teacher, and visual artist based in New York, has been awarded a residency at MacDowell, the storied artist residency program in Peterborough, New Hampshire, just down the road from Walden’s summer home at the Dublin School!

We want to hear from you!

What’s been going on? If you have a recent or upcoming premiere, publication, award, new job or program, or a celebratory life event, please share the news at waldenschool.org/contact.

Stay in Touch

You can like The Walden School page on Facebook and join The Walden School private group to hear about events and opportunities throughout the year. You can also find us on InstagramTwitterYouTubebandcamp, and at waldenschool.org.

A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program
A dance during the 2019 Young Musicians Program


In the Spotlight: Bob Weaver

In the Spotlight

Bob Weaver

Anne and Bob on Manadnock

Bob Weaver is an alumnus of the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), the predecessor program to The Walden School, and has been a participant at Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR). Bob and his wife Anne, a fellow JCCer who is a physician as well as an accomplished musician and choral director, are longtime Walden donors and active members of the JCC/Walden alumni community. Bob is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Computer Science at Mount Holyoke College. He is a published composer, particularly of hymns and anthems, and an avid choral singer. Bob and Anne live in a retirement community in Needham, Massachusetts.

Bob began attending JCC in 1956. Anne started in 1962, which is when they first met.

How did you first get involved with the Junior Conservatory Camp, and what has been your involvement with JCC and Walden since?

My brother John, a concert organist, composer, and teacher, started as a teenager at the JCC in about 1952. My family and I, from Baltimore, visited camp at Manor Vail in Lyndon Center, Vermont, for a couple of days in summer 1955, and I knew right away that I wanted to be a part of this friendly and supportive community and to study with Mrs. Grace Cushman. So I started there the following summer and continued coming to camp for eight years—right through college. I was on the dishwashing crew and later served as boys’ counselor. Many will remember that the dish crew filled the kitchen with wonderful vocal harmonies and resolving seventh chords while we scraped and loaded the dishwasher.


Mrs. Cushman teaching at JCC, with Alan Shewmon at the piano (photo credit: Edward Max)
Anne Conley (Weaver) at JCC (photo credit: Edward Max)







For my last two summers at camp, Anne Conley attended, and we were married when she graduated from Wellesley College in 1967. Later, when we were living in western Massachusetts, we saw an article in our local newspaper, the Greenfield Recorder, announcing a concert to be given by JCCer Nansi Carroll at The Walden School. Not wanting to miss that, we made our first trek up to Dublin, New Hampshire. We were immediately impressed that the warmth and supportive atmosphere that we had known at JCC, years earlier, was most palpably present at Walden in a way that brought back vivid memories of our camp experience. We have since attended all of the JCC/Walden reunions at the Dublin School, and some of the Composers Forums, and we have taken part in fundraising and committee work for the school. Several years ago, I attended the Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR), a week full of inspiring musical events and superb faculty and fellow attendees.

Many JCC folks will remember singing the hymn tunes that I wrote while at camp (“Dear Lord and Father” and “Lord, Thy Glory Fills the Heavens”). Over the years, and especially since I retired from teaching at Mount Holyoke College, I have continued composing and have written a number of other hymn tunes, setting some beautiful texts by my friend, William Pasch, of Atlanta. Together, Bill and I have expanded these tunes into choral anthems and have published with Augsburg Fortress Publishers and the St. James Music Press.


Edward Max - 05.Ron Nelson_ forum
Ron Nelson at a Composers Forum (photo credit: Edward Max)
John Weaver (Bob’s brother) and Reynaldo Reyes on a hike (photo credit: Edward Max)







I understand you have a video of JCC that you’d like to share with us. How did the video come together, and what does it show?

In 2007, we attended the JCC/Walden reunion in Dublin. Dr. Ron Nelson, who had been a JCC faculty member and composer-in-residence for a number of years, was unable to be there but made a video to share. It was a silent video with footage from JCC that Ron had taken in 1960. Last spring, I rediscovered the video and worked with Ron to edit it and add some of Ron’s original compositions in the background. You can watch the video here. Ron is now living in Arizona in retirement from the music department of Brown University.

Why do you give to Walden? Do you have any hopes for Walden’s future as we embark on its 50th summer?

Anne and I know how profoundly the Junior Conservatory and Walden have affected and enriched our lives. We contribute to the school in the knowledge that the Walden experience (in both of its forms, YMP and CMR) can have the same positive effect on others who want to learn and compose and share interests. This is a precious program that must be preserved and extended into the future. I urge everyone to give generously to Walden.

Do you have any stories of Walden/JCC connections that you have made and maintained over the years?

So many of the people whom we knew in our summers at JCC have remained our valued friends to this day. We hear of their musical accomplishments, we remain close through email, Zoom, letters, and visits in person. We were so pleased when Walden arranged for a Zoom gathering of JCC alums this past year. That was a real treat that got many of us together for a wonderful virtual sharing of memories.

And here is a “small world” anecdote. At the 2018 Walden reunion at the Dublin School, Anne and I were chatting with a group and mentioned that we are living at the North Hill Retirement Community in Needham, near Boston. Former JCCer Tom Terwilliger said that his mother had lived at North Hill. At that moment, Solon Snider, who was himself a Young Musicians Program alumnus and attending the reunion, overheard us and interjected: “North Hill—my grandparents live there.” It turned out that his grandparents, Stanley (now deceased) and Mary Ann Snider, were fellow residents whom we knew and had visited with over dinner.

Not long ago, I happened to meet a gentleman, Jim Snider, who was reading in one of the lounges at North Hill, and we struck up a conversation. He said that he has a son, Solon, who is very much into music. I immediately recognized that name and said, “I’ve met your son!” He looked puzzled until I said it was at the Walden School! And yes, Jim knew all about Walden and its wonderful programs.

We all have heard that your brother John and his wife Marianne both passed away in 2021. They had a profound effect on the sacred musical scene in this country, and both are remembered for their many years at JCC.

Yes, John graduated from the Curtis Institute and remained a fixture at JCC as a faculty member and as Assistant Director of the camp, except for the years when he was drafted into the Army. For his Army service, he was named the organist and choir director of the Post Chapel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Later, when John’s teacher, Alexander McCurdy, retired from Curtis, John was recruited to replace him in the Organ Department there. Also the organist of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, he happily commuted to and from Philadelphia by train—his favorite form of transportation. Some years later, the Juilliard School asked him to chair their organ department, which he did while continuing at Curtis for many years until his retirement in 2005.


Bob, Flora, Ms. Spraggs, Grace and John
Bob Weaver, Flora Cushman, Elizabeth Spraggs (a family friend of the Cushmans), Mrs. Grace Cushman, and John Weaver in New York City, about 1962 (photo credit: Bob Weaver)
John Weaver leads JCC chorus from the organ (photo credit: Edward Max)








Marianne was a wonderful flutist who performed frequently with John, including at JCC where she was on the staff for many years. She helped lead the music ministry at Madison Avenue, including directing the Junior Choir, and earlier, she and John established the Bach cantata series at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New York. John and Marianne spent their summer months at a house that they built in their beloved northern Vermont, not far from Lyndonville, and they eventually retired there.

For more details about John and Marianne, and about my own music, check out my website. There is a link on that site to the JCC/Walden connection. There is also a page that I’ve developed describing John’s career, including videos of John and Marianne in concert in New York and a wonderful 90-minute Public Radio interview (“Pipedreams”) from 2007 in honor of John’s 70th birthday. My contact information is also there, and I’m always happy to hear from people in the JCC and Walden communities.

In the Spotlight: Sam Pluta & Sky Macklay

In the Spotlight

Sam Pluta and Sky Macklay

Sam Pluta and Sky MacklaySam Pluta is a composer, laptop improviser, electronics performer, and sound artist who was on faculty at Walden for 16 summers. Though his work has a wide breadth, his central focus is on using the computer as a performance instrument capable of sharing the stage with groups ranging from new music ensembles to world-class improvisers. Sam is the Technical Director for the Wet Ink Ensemble, a group for which he is a member composer as well as principal electronics performer. He studied composition and electronic music at Columbia University, where he received his DMA in 2012.

Sky Macklay is a composer, oboist, and installation artist who was on faculty at Walden for nine summers. Her music is conceptual yet expressive, exploring extreme contrasts, surreal tonality, audible processes, humor, and the physicality of sound. As a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow, her next project is a chamber music album that will synthesize her work as a composer and her raucous, multiphonic-rich oboe performance practice. She is a founding member of the New York-based Ghost Ensemble. Macklay completed her DMA in composition at Columbia University.

In the last year, Sky and Sam have taken up teaching positions at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, continuing a long and deep association between Peabody, The Walden School, and the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), Walden’s predecessor program. JCC founder Grace Newsom Cushman, along with Walden co-founders Pam Quist, David Hogan, and Lynn Taylor Hebden, each enjoyed a long association with Peabody, and hundreds of Walden and JCC alumni first learned of JCC and Walden while studying music at the Peabody Prep. For many decades, there was a bus that left Peabody early in the morning on the last Saturday of June, filled with eager campers bound for New England to kick off each amazing summer of Walden (and perhaps JCC, too?).

How and when did your relationship with Walden begin, and what has been your involvement since then?

Sam: My relationship with Walden started in 2001 when I was on staff just after finishing college. In 2002, I was hybrid staff and faculty, and then from 2004 to 2016 I was on faculty at YMP. I was also Director of Computer Music at YMP from 2008 to 2016, and Academic Dean for at least 5 years until 2016. I was one of the founding faculty members of the Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) in 2012, and on faculty at CMR for five years. When I was teaching at the University of Chicago, the quarter system made it impossible for me to do CMR, but now I’ll be back teaching at CMR this summer.

Sky: My relationship with Walden began in 2009 when I attended the Teacher Training Institute (TTI), and I absolutely loved it! I applied to be on faculty at Walden’s Young Musicians Program (YMP) the next year and got the job, and I was a faculty member at YMP from 2010 to 2018. I have also been on staff and a participant at CMR. I haven’t been on faculty for a few years now, but it’s my dream to teach at Walden again in the future.

Could you describe a favorite memory from your time at Walden?

Sky: One of my favorite parts of Walden is open mic night. I would host open mic nights a lot, and it was just such a wonderful time for everyone to share their creativity. One open mic night coincided with Christmas in July, and a YMP student named Evan Johnson [a 2022 YMP staff member] was my Secret Santa. For my present he gave me a really beautiful song that he wrote about me and Sam, so Sam and I danced to it at the open mic, but Sam was wearing Santa makeup, and the Santa makeup got all over my face while we were dancing!

Sam: Alex Christie [current YMP and CMR faculty and leadership team] wrote the Mountain Song almost 20 years ago, and the students still sing it whenever they hike Mt. Monadnock. It’s amazing to see a student get up to present something and you don’t know what it’s going to be, and then it’s something amazing that becomes part of the fabric of Walden, which will be passed down by generations of students.

Could you share some highlights from composing or performing in the last year?

Sky: I had a string quartet premiered by Kronos Quartet as part of the Bang on a Can Loud Weekend at Mass MoCA. I also made a new harmonica installation called Harmonitrees at Stetson University, and now I’ve integrated two of the trees into a new piece of chamber music called Harmonifriends with Ghost Ensemble, which was recently premiered at Uptown Underground in New York.

Sam: This weekend the double-bar bandit arrived and put the double bars on my piece for orchestra and electronics, called Seeker, for the Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music in September.

What are your current positions at Peabody?

Sam: I’m an associate Professor of Computer Music. At Peabody, composition and computer music are separate departments, but they’re both departments for composition, just with a different focus.

Sky: I’m a Lecturer in Composition. I mostly teach composition, and in the fall I’ll also be teaching a class called Composers of the AACM (Association of for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), which I’m really excited about. I’m also the composition coordinator for the low-residency master’s program, which is a new format that offers more flexibility for composers who may not be able to relocate for a master’s degree. It’s an intense summer experience, followed by two semesters of online classes, and then another intense summer experience. My Walden skills are especially helpful in creating an amazing summer festival experience and fostering a musical community in a short period of time.

How has Walden pedagogy informed your university teaching?

Sam: Part of the job in teaching is creating a community, creating situations where students get together to make music and teach each other. There’s nothing better than teaching for 16 years at Walden to make you understand how to foster community.

Sky: I take that same attitude from Walden, where composers forums provide a model for respectful dialogue involving composers and performers. I use creative musicianship and “Discover, Drill, Create” all the time in my composition lessons. If a student is stuck, I try to find a piece where we can discover something related to what they’re working on and create a drill based on it, which can help students get through creativity blocks and get the notes flowing.

Are there any reflections you could share on the Walden legacy at Peabody?

Sky: At Peabody, we are traversing the same halls as [JCC founder] Grace Cushman and a lot of Walden people including Steve Coxe, Leo Wanenchak, and Pam Quist. I recently came across an old Peabody newsletter that mentions a Walden alumna named Laura Kolker. It says she was a Peabody Prep student who won a BMI award and went to Walden four times, where she studied with Pam Quist, John Yankee, and Paul Nauert.

Sam: Pam Quist was the first person to teach electronic music at Walden, using tape-splicing equipment in the 1970s and ’80s. Pam learned that from Jean Eichelberger Ivey, who started electronic music at Peabody more than 50 years ago. So for me to bring my Walden pedagogy back to Peabody in the form of Walden’s Computer Musicianship course, which is the basis of all my electronic music teaching, that’s a pretty awesome circle!

Sky: For my Composers of the AACM class, I was researching the Schillinger method of composition, because one of the AACM composers, Muhal Richard Abrams, was a Schillinger practitioner. I believe the Schillinger method was an inspiration for some Walden and JCC teachers, including Grace Cushman. Joseph Schillinger was a composer who created a system involving algorithmic ways of generating rhythms and pitches. There’s a major Schillinger archive at Peabody, and the librarian who organized it was Ned Quist, who performed at Walden as part of Cross Country and wrote a beloved arrangement of “To My Old Brown Earth.”