Message from Seth Brenzel, Executive Director

Seth Brenzel headshot

Dear Walden friend,

As the air turns crisp and the days get shorter, I am filled with warm thoughts of Walden holiday parties. With the help of volunteer hosts (read below if you’re interested in volunteering!), Walden community members will gather this holiday season to catch up, share memories, and enjoy the warmth of the Walden community. Stay tuned for more information about these wonderful events.

We’re already looking ahead to June 15, 2024, the start of Walden’s Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR), which will be back on the Dublin School campus, and to June 29, 2024 (the last Saturday in June!) when we will commence Walden’s Young Musicians Program (YMP). If you know a creative musician, ages 9 to 99, or if you yourself might want to apply to be part of Walden Summer 2024, I hope you will pass along information about Walden and request an application.

Last but certainly not least, I want to add a note of thanks to the many donors who generously contribute to Walden. Whether you gave recently to our wildly successful Giving Tuesday campaign, at one of our regional events, through Walden’s Annual Fund, or contributed your generosity in some other way, I am grateful. And if you have not yet joined Walden’s community of philanthropic supporters, ’tis the season and there’s no better time than the present! Any amount helps support student scholarships, outstanding faculty, inspiring artist residencies, and keeps the (proverbial) lights on as we prepare for Summer 2024 and beyond.

I hope you have a joyous and peaceful holiday season, and I hope to see you soon at a holiday party in your area, an upcoming Walden regional event, or next summer in Dublin!


Seth Brenzel signature

Seth Brenzel
Executive Director

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 We are so grateful to the many volunteers who have hosted Walden holiday parties over the years.

Above: A Walden holiday party in New York in January 2023

Give the Gift of Walden

Bring some summer magic to the holiday season and support Walden School programs and initiatives with your order of Walden merchandise.

For the Holiday Season, enjoy 30% off of all merchandise orders through January 31.

We have shirts, baseball caps, canvas totes, stickers, mugs, magnets, keychains, pens, pencils, and more.

See what’s available and fill out an order form here.

Orders can be placed by check or money order, or via credit card/PayPal. Please contact Mindy Williams, Walden’s Administrative Manager, or call the Walden office at (415) 587-8157 if you have any questions.

Reflections on the 2023 Young Musicians Program (YMP)

From Seth Brenzel, Director of YMP and Walden School Executive Director

I had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family here in San Francisco, and I hope that for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving, you enjoyed a peaceful time with loved ones, as well. This is a wonderful time to reflect on all of the things for which I am grateful, and one of the things for which I am most appreciative this year is the amazing 2023 Young Musicians Program (YMP). We had a terrific session in Dublin on the gorgeous campus of the Dublin School. 56 students from around the United States, China, and Belgium joined 23 faculty, staff, nurses, and administrators for five outstanding weeks (and in some cases three weeks!) of creative music making.

We had exciting residencies with Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses; an opening concert given by percussionist and this summer’s Technical Director, Ross Karre; TAK Ensemble, led by Laura Cocks, which performed student works as well as faculty commissions; members of the International Contemporary Ensemble; and The Walden School Players, who this year were composed of Mabel Kwan (piano), Chris Wild (cello), Erica Dicker (violin), Zachary Good (clarinets), Dennis Sullivan (percussion), and Kyra Sims (horn).

Kari Francis was back for her second year as Walden’s Choral Director, and our choral concert was a wonderful success, featuring music by Veljo Tormis, Simon & Garfunkel, Lili Boulanger, Reena Esmail, Meredith Monk, and Billie Holiday, among many other wonderful composers and songwriters. Faculty members Nate Trier, Theo Trevisan, Francesca Hellerman, Lukáš Janata, Luke Schroeder, and Emi Ostrom assisted Kari in conducting choral ensembles and leading a summer filled with singing.

We were blown away and so very fortunate to have Nicole Mitchell as Walden’s Composer-in-Residence at YMP. In addition to her artistry and her own amazing music-making that she shared with our community, we were delighted by the way in which she worked with our students, providing insight and leading constructive dialogue with each YMP composer. She joyously interacted with the students, faculty, and the whole community, and indeed became a Walden community member herself during her seven-day residency. We all hope that our paths cross again sometime soon!

The summer was replete with fun—swim trips, Halloween-in-July featuring a haunted house, and beautiful mountain hikes, including the pinnacle trek up to the top of Mount Monadnock. We had an optional, non-denominational-holiday-in-July gift exchange. And we enjoyed dancing along to the music of Aurora Nealand and the Royal Roses in their now-annual appearance on the “FAB-io,” the patio just outside the Fountain Arts Building on the Dublin School campus. This concert is a wonderful collaboration between Dublin School, The Walden School, and the Monadnock Folklore Society. Walden made its annual pilgrimage to MacDowell, the country’s preeminent artist residency program, in Peterborough (just 10 minutes from Walden!) to meet with and learn from composers Ashkan Behzadi and Aubrey Johnson. Thanks to Ashkan, we had the opportunity to visit one of the artist studios, outside of which the visiting students, faculty, and staff from Walden launched into spontaneous singing of one of our choral concert selections. On the walls of the artist studio, it was fun to see the names of past residents, including several Walden faculty members and artists-in-residence!

Some of you may have heard about the tornado that struck our campus during Festival Week, right in the midst of the Musicianship Demo for parents, guardians, and family members. Thank goodness we were all together and inside when the tornado touched down, and luckily very few of the buildings were damaged; most of the damage that the campus experienced were downed trees. The tornado certainly rattled our nerves, and yet the community came together to support one another during this time. We were grateful that nobody on campus or in the Walden or Dublin communities was injured, and all of us were grateful for how Dublin School responded to make sure the Walden community was safe. The David Hogan memorial tree that had been planted on the quad nearly 20 years ago was destroyed during the tornado, and we’ll be working with Dublin School to replace that tree.

A parent of two 2023 Young Musicians Program students writes: “Rarely a day goes by without my children rehashing how much fun they had at Walden last summer. I can’t thank you and the entire Walden community enough for making it possible for them to be a part of what I believe has been a life-changing experience. They’re discovering their own inner musical voices. It’s as if a spark has been lit in them.”

We hope to see you (or your student or cousin or neighbor or child) at Walden 2024, for which applications are now open. We can’t wait to light more sparks and help more eager Walden students find their musical voices!

Reflections on the 2023 Walden/JCC Alumni Reunion

From Noah Mlotek, Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Over the weekend of August 4 to 6, 2023, The Walden School hosted a weekend of events to celebrate Walden’s 50th anniversary and the 70th anniversary of the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), Walden’s predecessor program. Dozens of Walden alumni and their families gathered in the Monadnock region to reconnect with friends, make new connections, and experience a bit of the Walden/JCC magic once again.

On Friday, alumni began arriving on the campus of the Dublin School, Walden’s summer home for the last 40 years. We enjoyed an outdoor reception and barbeque dinner, workshops by veteran Walden faculty and alumni Caroline Mallonee (“Composing with Scordatura”) and Ted Moore (“Introduction to Modular Synthesis Using VCV Rack”), and Evening Music led by YMP faculty members and alumni Francesca Hellerman and Theo Trevisan. The evening concluded with Goodnight Music and a reception in Gillespie Hall.

On Saturday, alumni had the option of hiking Mt. Monadnock or Gap Mountain, swimming in Dublin Pond, or exploring nearby Keene or Peterborough. More musical workshops were offered: Chorus, led by former YMP choral director Sarah Riskind, and Musicianship, led by Walden faculty member and CMR alumnus Lukáš Janata. Saturday evening brought a wonderfully festive 50th-anniversary dinner, with balloons and cake for Walden’s big birthday. We then enjoyed a breathtaking solo piano recital by Mackenzie Melemed, a YMP alumnus, who inaugurated the beautiful historic Steinway piano recently donated to Walden by Dublin resident and Walden supporter Tuck Crocker, who was profiled in the September edition of InterNetzo. After gathering in our final Goodnight Music circle of the reunion, alumni were treated to a special photo show filled with cherished memories from 70 years of Walden and JCC history.

On Sunday, we watched a video prepared by former JCC faculty member Ron Nelson with priceless photos and footage from the history of JCC, enlivened with commentary from Bob Weaver, the “dean” of the reunion, who first attended JCC in 1956. We also heard an update on the amazing successes of Walden at 50 from Executive Director Seth Brenzel. The reunion concluded with a Composers Forum moderated by veteran Walden faculty members Lukáš Janata and Tamar Bloch, featuring nine compositions by alumni of CMR and YMP, and incredible performances by our reunion guest artists: David Friend (piano), Thea Mesirow (cello), Laura Cocks (flutes) and Ellery Trafford (percussion) of TAK Ensemble, and Joshua Rubin (clarinets) of the International Contemporary Ensemble (clarinets). Four of these five visiting artists are past performers at Walden.

From Sanctus to Black Socks, from Earth Goddess to My Old Brown Earth, from Jumala siunaa to sol-sol-la-sol-ti-do, from “come let us sing” to “we won’t be singing till then,” it was a rich celebration of Walden and JCC and 50 and 70: a shared ethos, community, musical language, and spirit of open-mindedness that is as strong as ever. In words by the poet Wendell Berry that will be familiar to many alumni: “Again, again we come and go, changed, changing. . . . Only music keeps us here.”

Thank you to all the alumni and family members who made the trip from near and far for this special reunion. And a huge thank you to the hard-working reunion staff, led by Director of Operations Sammi Stone, and the workshop leaders who made it such a fun and memorable occasion.

. . . till then . . .



Noah Mlotek
Director of Development and Alumni Relations

Call for Memories and Photos

Attention alumni! We are renewing a call for treasured memories and photos from your time at Walden or the Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC), to be included in a 50th/70th-Anniversary memory book.

Please aim to keep your reflections to a maximum of 250 words.

Alumni are also invited to share up to five treasured photos with the community to be included in the memory book.

Please send your memories and photos to us at We look forward to hearing from you!

Fiscal Year-End Fundraising

Walden’s 2023 fiscal year ended on September 30. From October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023, Walden’s Annual Fund raised $355,500 from 435 individuals, families, companies, and foundations, including 98 new donors. Thank you, thank you, 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

Donate today

Apply for Walden 2024

Applications are open, and the first deadline is December 15

We are thrilled to announce that applications for The Walden School’s 2024 summer programs are now open! The early-round deadline to apply to the Young Musicians Program (YMP) and Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) is December 15. If you are a Walden or Junior Conservatory Camp (JCC) alum, Walden will waive your application fee if you apply by the December 15 (early) deadline. We encourage you to share the news with your friends, family, colleagues, students, and teachers.

Creative Musicians Retreat: June 15 – June 23, 2024, Dublin School, Dublin, New Hampshire (for musicians ages 18-98)

Young Musicians Program: June 29 – August 4, 2024, at Dublin School, Dublin, New Hampshire (for pre-college musicians, ages 9-18)

Application materials for both programs are available on our website.

Write to us at with any questions.

Young Musicians Program (YMP) Online Information Sessions

Join us to learn more about the music camp that changes lives.

Do you know a student who writes songs or arranges music? Or a young improviser who wants to strengthen their musicianship and meet like-minded peers? Or a music teacher who might like to learn about Walden’s unique curriculum?

Join us at one of our online interactive information sessions, featuring presentations and Q&A with Walden’s Executive Director, Seth Brenzel, alongside YMP leadership, faculty, staff, and students.

All YMP Info Sessions are held on Zoom and begin at 7 pm Eastern / 4 pm Pacific.

Learn more and register for one of the info sessions below:

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Thursday, February 15, 2024

These events are open to prospective students, music teachers, and anyone else who would like to learn about Walden’s flagship program for musicians ages 9 to 18.

Community Event

A concert of new music in Denver, co-presented by The Walden School

On Saturday, September 30, five Walden-affiliated composers presented their works in a special concert in Denver entitled “Invitation to the Wild: New Music from The Walden School and Friends.” After the concert, guests enjoyed a warm reception sponsored by The Walden School. This concert of new music, attended by about 200 listeners, was a wonderful opportunity for Walden alumni to connect with new audiences and to spread the word about Walden’s transformative music education programs.

Above: Composers and performers from the concert, including four of the Walden alumni whose works were performed.

The Walden composers represented on the concert were Loretta Notareschi (YMP alumna and YMP and CMR faculty member), Bob Bassett (CMR alumnus and 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, was also present at the concert.

The performers were members of Wild Beautiful Orchestra, a dynamic collective of professionals and youth. The concert also featured inventive choreography by Kim Robards Dance, a professional modern dance touring company based in Denver.

Walden is grateful to Bob Bassett, Michael Frank, and Loretta Notareschi for their efforts in organizing this event. It was a beautiful celebration of the connections formed at Walden and the incredible impact of our programs.

A performance of Michael Frank’s Invitation from the Chair
Loretta Notareschi performs in her electroacoustic composition Flute RI

Competitions and Calls for Scores

Featured opportunities for composers

Walden encourages the sharing of opportunities and resources for composers, including competitions and calls for scores that may be of interest to our community. We maintain a searchable list of competitions, awards, and calls for scores on our website. Opportunities are often posted in Walden’s community Facebook group as well.

Here is an opportunity we are highlighting this month:

The Robert Avalon International Competition for Composers

Through this competition, Foundation for Modern Music honors its late Artistic Director Robert Avalon. The competition is open to submissions of solo and chamber music (up to 5 performers) composed by junior, high school, college and professional composers, with awards for first and second place in each category. Apply by January 30, 2024.

If you’re aware of an opportunity that Walden students, alumni, faculstaff, and friends should know about too, please contact us.

Community News

Wet Ink Ensemble celebrates 25th Season

Wet Ink Ensemble, a past ensemble-in-residence at Walden, opened their 25th season on October 9 with a chamber concert that included premieres by Mariel Roberts, Kate Soper, and Josh Modney, all of whom have been visiting artists at Walden. Modney’s work LYNX featured live electronics performed by Sam Pluta, Wet Ink co-director and a longtime Young Musicians Program (YMP) and Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR) faculty member. Wet Ink’s 25th Anniversary Festival will take place December 7-9 in New York City, featuring three more celebratory programs of collaborative and adventurous music with details to be announced.

Photo: Sam Pluta and YMP alumna Freya Waley-Cohen at the October 9 Wet Ink concert (photo courtesy of Sam Pluta)

Nicolás Benavides’s Doña Sebastiana premiered

A new composition by CMR and Teacher Training Institute (TTI) alumnus Nicolás Lell Benavides was premiered on a November 2-5 concert series in San Francisco. New Century Chamber Orchestra commissioned Benavides to write Doña Sebastiana for violin soloist and strings. The piece was premiered on “Visitations,” a program of music which “examines connections with the afterlife from many cultural angles.” You can read more here from Nicolás and the ensemble about the commission and the cultural significance of Doña Sebastiana, a folkloric figure also known as Lady Death.

Nnenna Ogwo interviewed for The Piano Pod

Pianist, educator, YMP alumna, and former Walden board member Nnenna Ogwo was interviewed in September for The Piano Pod, a classical music podcast created by Yukimi Song. Over two episodes, Nnenna discusses her earliest musical influences, the Juneteenth Legacy Project (an organization founded by Nnenna that highlights music of the African diaspora), and her 2023 album of solo piano music, Luminous. You can listen to Nnenna’s interview here.

Greg Zelek brings Miami musical heritage and collaborators to Madison

On October 6, YMP alumnus Greg Zelek presented ¡Greg Zelek y Amigos!, a bilingual program of classical and popular Latin American music, at Overture Hall in Madison, where he serves as principal organist and curator of organ programming for the Madison Symphony Orchestra. Zelek was joined by a group of Miami musicians including guitarist Alvaro Bermudez, who was Greg’s childhood guitar teacher. In an article for the Wisconsin State Journal, Zelek discussed his Cuban heritage and early musical experiences growing up in South Florida. Of the October program, Zelek said, “To share this music, to bring folks from Miami to my people here now in Madison is a very special thing.” The 2023-24 Overture Concert Organ series curated by Greg will also include a performance of Sine Nomine by the late John Weaver, a JCC alumnus and faculty member and a celebrated organist.

George Brandon’s work receives premiere in New York City

A work by scholar, composer, bandleader, and CMR alumnus George Brandon was premiered by the ensemble Numinous at Roulette Intermedia in Brooklyn, New York, on September 17. Brandon’s Introduction, Litany and Prayers is scored for large instrumental ensemble and four voices. You can listen to the archived recording here.

Feng Hew and Caroline Mallonee rehearsing Balance (photo courtesy of Caroline Mallonee)

Feng Hew performs Walden-commissioned work by Caroline Mallonee

On November 16 in Buffalo, cellist Feng Hew performed Balance by Caroline Mallonee, a Walden alumna and director of The Walden School Creative Musicians Retreat (CMR). The piece was originally commissioned by The Walden School for Ha-Yang Kim, a past visiting artist at Walden, as part of the annual Faculty Commissioning Project at Walden’s Young Musicians Program (YMP). The concert by the Buffalo Chamber Players was held in the renovated AKG art museum in Buffalo. The piece is also featured on Mallonee’s recently released album, String Tunes, which is available on CD and streaming.

C4 performs Ayanna Woods piece composed for CMR

On its November concerts, C4 (The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective) performed a work by Ayanna Woods that was originally composed for Walden’s CMR. Woods’s Don’t Follow Don’t Fall is a meditation on Jaden Smith’s tweets. Singers in C4 include fellow CMR alumni Daniel Castellanos, Emma Daniels, and Jamie Klenetsky Fay, as well as YMP faculty member Lila Meretzky. C4 is a unique ensemble of singers, composers and conductors, performing pieces written within the last 25 years, premiering and commissioning new choral works, and mentoring emerging singers, composers, and conductors of today’s choral music.

Walden composers awarded Copland House residencies

YMP alumna Leah Reid and past Walden visiting artist Scott Wheeler (as part of Dinosaur Annex) were among the ten composers granted 2023 Copland House Residency Awards. Each year, the Aaron Copland House invites eight to ten gifted American composers to reside and compose, one at a time, at Rock Hill, Aaron Copland’s historic New York home. In addition to their stays at Rock Hill, the recipients become eligible for various post-residency performance, recording, and commissioning opportunities. Congratulations to Leah, Scott, and all of this year’s Copland House residents.

Ensemble Dal Niente performs Ted Moore and more

Past Walden visiting artists Ensemble Dal Niente joined with percussion duo Beyond This Point for an October 25 concert in Chicago that featured a work by Ted Moore, a longtime CMR and YMP faculty member and a TTI alumnus. Moore’s still motion is scored for percussion with live video sampling. The concert also featured the US premiere of Simon Steen-Andersen’s Black Box Music, which combines elements of conducting, puppetry, and theater, and a premiere of To care for the bodies of the dead by Michelle Lou.

Walden friends sing Bach in the Bay Area

A recent series of concerts by the California Bach Society featured two friends of Walden: CMR alumna Zoe Yost, a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and Elizabeth Susskind, who recently retired as Walden’s indefatigable Administrative Assistant. The ensemble performed J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor in three concerts around the Bay Area, accompanied by leading period instrumentalists.

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

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

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