Reflections on the Composer Mentorship Program, Part II

By Barry Kempton

Today’s post is written by Max Carlson, The Schubert Club’s Program and Production Associate who manages our Composer Mentorship Program. 

The Schubert Club hosts a unique opportunity for high-school student composers called the Composer Mentorship Program. We are currently seeking participants for the 2016-17 school year (deadline is June 20).  Students in this program get to work with The Schubert Club’s composer-in-residence Edie Hill and benefit from bi-weekly lessons, roundtable sessions, and concert outings as a group. The program is offered free of charge to each selected composer and is sponsored in part by HRK Foundation.

Two weeks ago we posted some reflections on the program from the 2014-2015 participants. This week, we reached out to some alumni of the program to share their thoughts. 


Chris Neiner
unnamed (1)Currently, I study composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music with Aaron Travers. While here, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with choreographers and film directors and receive premieres of several instrumental compositions. When I was a part of The Schubert Club Composer Mentorship Program, the opportunity to work with the ensemble in residence at the time, the Copper Street Brass Quintet, was a valuable experience; working with them provided insight into brass quintet repertoire, brass instrument techniques, and balancing dynamics in a chamber ensemble. I feel the Mentorship Program has also connected me to more composers; I continue to meet and connect with alumni at music festivals such as the Oregon Bach Composers Symposium and the New Music on the Point Festival. 

Dylan Perese
unnamed (2)Now in my fourth year at Harvard, I still look back on the Schubert Club Composer Mentorship program as a formative creative experience.  Edie’s unique ability to uplift, inspire and empower the creative genius within all of us is truly unparalleled.  At Harvard, I have continued to compose for anything and everything and I have also advocated for the arts and increased collaboration and cooperation on campus.  I believe that emotion constitutes energy in motion, and so in everything I write I strive to evoke an energetic frequency that speaks to one’s highest potential and purpose – in much a similar way that Edie (I’m sure) continues to do in her teaching!  More in-depth information about my work is available online at:

Simon Alexander Adams
unnamedThe Schubert Club Composer Mentorship Program was a great opportunity for me to pursue my interest in music composition during high school. At the time, I planned on studying composition in college, and the program gave me one more outlet to hone my craft, and perform my music for others. I went on to study Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and subsequently pursued a Master’s in Media Arts through the same program. My creative practice has since become increasingly interdisciplinary – expanding to the intersection of art, music and technology. Developing multimedia performances, interactive installation art and designing new interfaces for musical expression are just a few of the avenues I have dived into. I continue to collaborate with fellow artists and musicians in the Detroit / Ann Arbor area – contributing sound design and music to theatre, dance and video productions, developing live visual performances and animation to music, and performing with my glitch-electronic free-jazz prog-rock band Saajtak. Website:

Riona Ryan
unnamed (3)It hasn’t even been a year since I last met with Edie and the wonderful musicians of The Schubert Club Mentorship Program, but it feels like it’s been maybe four. I’m two-thirds of the way through my first year studying composition at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and it’s been one of the most transformative years of my life thus far. Currently I’m working on a lot of things; I’ve gotten really into live electronics, working extensively in Max/MSP. I’m starting to play solo performances under the pseudonym Namatamago as well as writing for others. My most recent notated piece was for bassoon and electronics and I’m preparing a structured improvisation set based on crowdsourced responses to a question about embodied emotion that I’ll be performing at the Block Museum of Art in April. I am also working on a piece with my video collaborator and good friend Jae Shin Cross, and am working toward a summer album release. I’ve started to think about a piece for harp and electronics which will be played sometime in the fall.

It’s crazy to look back and realize that I really developed the confidence to pursue composition seriously through The Schubert Club Mentorship Program. I love what I’m doing so much now, but three years ago I had never written a note in my life; even at the beginning of last year I was applying to schools as solely a flute performance major. Edie’s warm trust in me and her invaluable guidance were essential to my development both as a composer and a human being. I learned a lot about the craft and what it means to work as a composer. I don’t know where I’d be now without all of this knowledge, and I’m forever grateful to Edie, Melange A Trois, and The Schubert Club for granting me this amazing opportunity.


Learn more about the Composer Mentorship Program and download an application here:

The Deadline to apply for the 2016-2017 season has been extended to June 20, 2016.