Our Voices

NJSO Youth Orchestras 30th Anniversary Creative Composition Album

Track 1: Calypso

Academy Orchestra Group 2a

Artistic Director’s Note: Calypso is an epic tale of love and longing. Taking inspiration from ancient Greek mythology, one of the composers proposed the story of Calypso and Odysseus. Through the inspired music that developed, the piece became a full symphonic representation of the humanity of the mythological characters. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Gabriel Bulacan, Stephen Cheng, Jacqueline Li, Sarah Spitzer, Michelle Wang, Paige Wang, Jacqueline Zhou

Coach: José Luis Domínguez

Track 2: The Enchanted Forest

Chromatic Creators (Chamber Orchestra Group 2)

Artistic Director’s Note: This was the first piece to be completed, and the composers and their coach did an incredible job of working collectively. The composers developed every theme, and they gave me very clear instructions regarding the shape and orchestration of their piece. I am very proud that the NJSO performed and recorded this piece in March 2021 for the virtual Spring into Music gala! – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Ashita Birla, Samantha Huerta, Natalie Sokolov, Ameya Srinivasan, Kevin Yang, Amy Zarebczan

Coach: Kathleen Nester

Track 3: Journey of Hope

High Brass Group (Academy Orchestra Group 7)

Artistic Director’s Note: This is an incredibly inspiring piece by a group of inspired composers and coaches. From a beginning of just one note to a joyful full orchestral ending, this journey is unforgettable. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Ryan Bae, Julia Caprari, James Cottrell, Nathan Lee, Danny Santibañez

Coaches: Andrea Menousek & Anderson Romero

Track 4: Seven Strings

Chamber Orchestra Group 1

Artistic Director’s Note: The themes in this piece are heartbreakingly beautiful, and they morph from intimate moments to fast-paced rhythmic passages. I was very impressed with the maturity of the themes created by these young composers. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Paolo Figueroa, Christabella Leung, Katherine Liang, Marisa Olavarria, Andrew Rodriguez, Damini Varghese

Coach: José Luis Domínguez

Track 5: Mystic Pioneer

Academy Orchestra Group 4

Artistic Director’s Note: This group was comprised of cellists and bassoonists, and they wrote amazing melodies intended for other instruments! The solo violin and the solo cello are the glue of this evolving piece of music. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Alex Barker, Radon Belarmino, Michael Forde, Helios Hong, Andrew Ikemoto, Liam Reilly

Coaches: Robert Wagner & Philo Lee

Track 6: Sunrise at the Lake

Training Ensemble – Ms. Amelia’s Group

Artistic Director’s Note: The composers in this group began the year as total beginners to the study of music, and through their exploration with their coach, quickly found their individual and collective music voice! – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Naomi Akakpo, Gifty Ezeanuna, Caden Giles

Teaching Artist: Amelia Muccia

Track 7: Cello Jam Circle

Chamber Orchestra Group 6

Artistic Director’s Note: Among the different approaches that coaches took to the collective composition process was a “jam circle” in which composers improvised and played musical ideas for each other. This group prepared their melodies and put them together in a video which I transcribed and orchestrated for a cello ensemble plus flutes and solo bassoon. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers:  Peter Corwin, Gracen Hill, Ethan Kim, Ryan Lu, Kevin Valencia, Norah Wang, Kevin Wei, Kenny Yang

Coach: Laura Andrade

Track 8: Variations on ‘Arirang’

Academy Orchestra Group 6

Artistic Director’s Note: I was deeply impressed by the creativity displayed by the composers of these variations on the Korean folk song “Arirang.” The orchestration is for a classical symphony orchestra with the added touch of guitar harmonics, which the composers suggested. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Abigail Lee, Hannah Lee, Megan Newton, Christina Nicolau, Kayla Wang, Eric Xu, Andy Yin

Coach: Robert Ingliss

Track 9: Quake of the Ocean

Ostinato Orchestrators in Slippers (Chamber Orchestra Group 4)

Artistic Director’s Note: This group had a very impressive evolution throughout the composing process. They started by writing the rhythms of their names and ended up writing themes in the style of film music. At their request, I orchestrated it for a full symphony orchestra in the style of Pirates of the Caribbean. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Veronica Derugo, Lauren Nguyen, Ethan Wang, Allen Wu, Vivian Zhang

Coach: Kathleen Nester

Track 10: Canon of Grace

Training Ensemble – Ms. Inyong’s Group

Artistic Director’s Note: This wonderful piece is the result of the composers writing variations on two well-known tunes: Pachelbel’s Canon in D and “Amazing Grace.” The bravery of these variations is most impressive, and there is also an original theme right at the center of the piece. The orchestration is for a Classical orchestra. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Kyrae Brock, Justin Casco, Emilia Delgado, Sarahline Fequiere, Ayla Goore, Daniel Lanao, Sophia Lanao, Johanna Motatey, Sirron Norris, Ammy Peralta, Colin Robinson, Jax Ryals, Lauren Trinity, Rio Umana

Teaching Artist: Inyong Park

Track 11: Musical Jokers

Musical Jokers (Academy Orchestra Group 2b)

Artistic Director’s Note: This is a very special piece. The composers were mostly violinists, and yet they requested an orchestration without violins! Their willingness to explore different textures and timbres resulted in the very active use of percussion and low brass. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Adhithi Arun, Nicholas Chen, Matt Hui, Sarosh Mistry, Matthew Shi, Heidi Tsai

Coach: James Musto III

Track 12: The Saddest of All Keys

Training Ensemble – Ms. Julia’s Group

Artistic Director’s Note: I received a perfectly written, completed musical phrase from these composers! The saddest key in this case is D minor, and the variations take us from Baroque to Classical to Romantic. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Mateo Baez-Salvador, Flor Chouloupe, Junior Chouloupe, Xitlali Garcia, Crystal Gonzalez, Patrick Molina, Bianca Milien Fequiere, Juliet Lopez, Jazmin Pearson, Jeremias Sanchez

Teaching Artist: Julia Castellanos

Track 13: Returning Home

Chamber Orchestra Group 3

Artistic Director’s Note: From the intimacy of the opening piano flourish to the swell of the punchy cinematic section, these composers went far beyond in their creativity and sheer quantity of musical ideas. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Gael Barker, Caroleena Fernandez, Rafi Ingliss, Aravind Krishnan, Sophie Lu, Celine Shon, Aidan Song

Coach: José Luis Domínguez

Track 14: Nostalgia, Victory, Valor

CO5 Carbon Pentoxide (Chamber Orchestra Group 5)

Artistic Director’s Note: Orchestrated entirely for a string ensemble, this might be the most “classical” pieces in the album. Beautiful and captivating themes challenge the conventions of the classical tradition in a viola-centric middle section. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Kelli Cheng, Daniel Corwin, Anirudh Khandrika, Hayden Lin, Andrew Zarebczan

Coaches: Jonathan Storck & Elzbieta Weyman

Track 15: Caribbean Symphony

Academy Orchestra Group 8

Artistic Director’s Note: This piece was entirely arranged, orchestrated and recorded by one of the composers, Ben Rosales. He perfectly captured the Latin vibe in a symphonic context. There is no way to listen to this piece and not move along. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Arjun Athalye, Ryan Badi, Andrew Joyal, Benjamin Rosales, Luke Tan, Max Watzky

Coach: Gregory LaRosa

Track 16: Voyage To Seven

Training Ensemble – Ms. DoYeon’s Group

Artistic Director’s Note: This piece demonstrates that there is no limit to creativity when using a basic musical concept like a scale. Based on a jam session recorded by the students, I transcribed the video the composers provided of their variations on a D-major scale, bridging and orchestrating them to bring the piece to life. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Aristotle Archibald, Joanne Chouloupe, David Ibiefo, Jesse Ibiefo, Saliah King, Deborah Louis, Trevon Norris, Rhia Randolph, Orchid Ryals

Teaching Artist: DoYeon Kim

Track 17: Viola Trio

Julien Soto-Raspa (Academy Orchestra violist)

Artistic Director’s Note: This is one of two original pieces on the album written by an individual composer. Julien’s viola trio is an outstanding composition, created and arranged independently and then submitted to me for mixing and mastering. Bravo, Julien! – José Luis Domínguez

Track 18: Alegría In D

Training Ensemble – Ms. Sasha’s Group

Artistic Director’s Note: The coach of this group put together a wonderful video of the student jam session, which I transcribed in the same order to create this pop song-like piece. Listen for the nod to a few well-known tunes, as suggested by the composers! – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Sarai Aguirre, Yarliz Azcona, Zachary Derstine, Gendiyah Easterling, Jathniel Fequiere, Khair Garnes, Madison Martin, Tito Oshuntolu, Toni Oshuntolu, Aysha Penafiel, Patrick Penafiel, Yvett Rodriguez, Luca Umana

Teaching Artist: Sasha Ono

Track 19: Bow Poetry

Academy Orchestra Group 3

Artistic Director’s Note: This is a beautiful piece for chamber orchestra by violist composers. It is a study of opposites, beginning with an extroverted fugato, and ending with an intimate, tranquil section carried by the solo violin. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Vihaan Agarwal, Kendra Buffaloe, Andrew Reza, Julien Soto-Raspa, Winston Wang

Coach: Martin Andersen

Track 20: Irish Reel

Sarah Spitzer (Academy Orchestra violinist)

Artistic Director’s Note: This is the second original piece on the album written by an individual composer. Going into this project, I was aware that Sarah was a composer, so I commissioned her to write a piece especially for the album. She composed, orchestrated and scored the piece entirely on her own, and I had the pleasure of performing and recording it. Get ready to get up and dance! Well done, Sarah—amazing piece! – José Luis Domínguez

Track 21: #SquadGoals

String Ensemble Group

Artistic Director’s Note: This is a perfect example of collective composition. Every single member of the String Ensemble contributed to this piece with at least one musical idea. The results are impressive! I orchestrated it very big to match their big ideas. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Wiktoria Brauntsch, Jada Clark, Anais-Skye Clarke-Avignant, Chadley Gede, Kelsey Guillen, Kelvin Guillen, Eliza Kapchits, Jakub Khan, Tara Khurana, Alethea Liu, Anna Lungu, Eva Neves-Szczypior, Akoya Rodriguez, Ella-Simone Scantlebury, Elena Sherrard, Sadie Valencia, Jared Vega, Sebastian Vega, Kimberly Vito

Coaches: Naomi Youngstein, Lucy Corwin & Frances Rowell

Track 22: Hazy Sunrise over Snow Covered Tulips

Academy Orchestra Group 1b

Artistic Director’s Note: Hold on to your seats! This piece begins with very classical, romantic and melodic themes that turn into a surprising and joyful climax with a full cinematic, symphonic blast. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Milind Bangalore, Jomar Hernandez, Katherine Lebedev, Eric Lee, Leah Lu, Evan Nguyen, Timothy Shi, Jenny Wang, Cheryl Yang

Coach: Gregory LaRosa

Track 23: The King’s Overture

Academy Orchestra Group 1a

Artistic Director’s Note: These composers came prepared with musical themes on the very first day of our collaboration. They continued to endlessly create new material, and the result is one of the richest and most diverse pieces of music that I have orchestrated. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Joseph Bejjani, Alexander Dobrescu, Gabe Ingliss, Aiden Lu, Katherine Porcello, Mirella Richard, Alexander Saldana, Olive Wang

Coach: José Luis Domínguez

Track 24: Essence

Training Ensemble – Ms. Yoojin’s Group

Artistic Director’s Note: Virtual instruments meet live recorded instruments in this amazing piece for jazz band and orchestra! The work of the composers inspired some of the best jazz musicians from different continents to collaborate with us by recording the composers’ improvisations, which were brilliantly guided and captured by their coach. – José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Malcom Artis, Crystal Burbano, Joel Calado, Madison Cardona, Melanie Cuna, Pamela Garzon, Thandiwe Hintze, Jasmine Hughes, Isabella Lopez, Cortlandt Paisley, Jaziah Pickering, Alex Pola, Ava Trinity, Vania Tueros, Julissa Villanueva

Teaching Artist: Yoojin Park

Guest artists: Yoojin Park (violin), James Borowski (bass trombone), Cristian Monreal (bass), Bryan Pezzone (piano), Dan Graziano (drums)

Track 25: Mythological Friends & Hazards

Academy Orchestra Group 5

Artistic Director’s Note: This is a truly epic example of collective composition! The composers did an amazing job of writing music to depict mythical creatures from around the world: La Madremonte from the magical forests of Colombia; Hugag and Hide-behind from American folklore; Drop-bear from Australia; Impundulu (“Lightning Bird”) from South Africa; and the legendary Hoop Snake of the US, Canada and Australia. This emotional, funny, chilling and inspiring piece will take you on a journey full of surprises, ending with an ambitious fugato where everything comes together. –José Luis Domínguez

Composers: Timothy Lien, Giovanni Lombardo, Madisen Stearns, Patrick Sun, Cameron Xu, Kevin Xu

Coaches: Andrew Lamy & Alexander Bickard

A Note from NJSO Youth Orchestras Artistic Director José Luis Domínguez

The NJSO Youth Orchestras have set an incredible and leading example within the inevitable virtual world that musicians have faced due to the pandemic. Making music together is the very essence of what we do, and thanks to our amazing team of staff and coaches, and their bravery in facing reinvention and adaptation, we continued to serve the students and the community with innovative approaches. This digital album is a testament to that.

For this project, all of our outstanding students across the Youth Orchestras’ four ensembles were assigned to composing groups, working with me and NJSO coaches and teaching artists in search of their voices. Even students with less experience in music theory became composers in a wonderful collective process. Every coach and teaching artist had a different approach, and outstanding creative results came from that. During class sessions, faculty would help to guide students to bring forth their musical ideas, melodies and motifs. The composing groups submitted their musical themes to me after every class, and I began the process of arrangement and orchestration to provide the most immediate feedback.

The traditional process of writing, scoring, rehearsing and playing takes a very long time. I wanted our students to have audible feedback of their creativity as soon as possible; therefore, an entirely new approach was necessary. Our students deserve the best results, and I used the most professional and inspiring sound libraries available—the same software used by the most acclaimed film composers and sound engineers.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my utmost gratitude to the entire faculty and staff of the NJSO Youth Orchestras for their commitment to our students. To our courageous young composers: Congratulations on your extraordinary journey! Arranging, orchestrating, performing and recording your music has been one of the greatest joys of my musical career.

– José Luis Domínguez
NJSO Youth Orchestras Artistic Director

Artwork

Jacqueline Zhou
Raquel Bonassisa

Special Thanks

Brett James
Craig Mandelbaum
Yoojin Park
James Borowski
Dan Graziano
Cristian Monreal
Bryan Pezzone

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M&T Bank is the NJSO Youth Orchestras 30th anniversary season sponsor.