The Richmond Symphony has announced the launch of its Composer-in-Residence program in collaboration with local composer D.J. Sparr. The program will give students in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program the opportunity to participate in classes, composition lessons and workshops with Sparr, who will work with the Richmond Symphony until June 2011. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, Sparr will also compose new works for Richmond Symphony’s Youth Orchestra and for the members of the Symphony’s Interactive Composition Class.
D. J. Sparr’s music merges current practices of art-concert composition with influences from the vernacular American music he grew up performing and studying as a guitarist. A performer since the age of five, Sparr entered the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he studied classical music and jazz guitar. During the summer years, he attended the Walden School and the Boston University Tanglewood Institute. Sparr completed his Bachelor of Music from the Eastman School of Music where he studied with Sydney Hodkinson, Christopher Rouse, Augusta Read Thomas, and Joseph Schwantner. During this time he was the recipient of numerous awards including a BMI Student Composer Award, First Place in George Washington University’s Alan Tyndall Hutchinson Competition, the Howard Hanson Large Ensemble prize and Howard Hanson Orchestra prize from Eastman, the BMI Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra Premiere, and the $10,000 Grand Prize in the orchestra category for the BMG/Williams College National Young Composers Competition (a prize awarded only once) for his work, Wrought Hocket.
The Richmond Symphony, established in 1957, is the largest performing arts organization in Central Virginia. The new Composer-In-Residence program started as a collaborative idea by staff members in Richmond Symphony’s Education Department and Erin R. Freeman, Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony and Artistic Director of the Symphony’s education initiatives, including its four youth orchestras. The program is part of a larger movement of similar programs developing among other national and international youth orchestras. Youth Orchestras with similar programs include the Pacific Youth Orchestra in Orange County, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, and Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras.(—Condensed from the press release)