Online Young Musicians Experience

The Online Young Musicians Experience (OYME) brought together 33 talented and creative young people from around the country and beyond. Though physically distanced, students had ample opportunity to connect with a larger community of peers, mentors, and friends, through creative extracurricular projects, social gatherings, weekly concerts, and participation in some of Walden’s beloved traditions.

Our faculty team included Alex Christie, Kittie Cooper, Brian Fancher, Danny Felsenfeld, Cara Haxo, Doug Hertz, Michael Kropf, Nate May, Lila Meretzky, Sarah Riskind, and Dennis Sullivan, a brilliant group of composers and educators ready to mentor, support, and inspire OYME students. Many thanks, also, to staff members Sammi Stone, Francesca Hellerman, and Lila Meretzky for their tireless work behind the scenes. Our visiting artists—Aurora Nealand and friends, the International Contemporary Ensemble, thingNY and The Walden School Players—gave incredible performances on our online concert series. Each concert was free and open to the public (with an internet connection).

Festival Week included four Composers Forums, July 27-30, on which all 33 OYME students had a piece premiered. These pieces were performed by the six members of The Walden School Players—Laura Cocks, Erica Dicker, Dana Jessen, Mabel Kwan, Tawnya Popoff, and Chris Wild—as well as past faculty member Erin Cameron. Every piece was followed by discussion with the composer, moderated by faculty members and Composer-in-Residence Mario Diaz de Leon. Mario brought a warm, thoughtful, and supportive voice, and also shared a fascinating presentation about his journey as a composer.

Students also participated in a variety of physically-distanced camp fun, including a cooking class from Neil at Dublin School, building their own synthesizers with faculty members Alex and Kittie, juggling with Walden alumni parent Susan Lord, making puppets for a Halloween-in-July performance extravaganza, group singing from home, and two open mic nights.

Throughout the summer, our faculty, staff, visiting artists, and students showed incredible adaptability. I am inspired by the way our Walden community harnessed constraints to fuel composition, creating music that embraced digital spaces in mind- and ear-opening ways and responded to our time with poignant, arresting sounds.

See Walden Sing this Summer