VPR Classical Celebrates Student Composers With New Series

Starting in April, VPR Classical is kicking off a new feature that celebrates student composers from the region. Each episode of the Student Composer Showcase will air three times during the first week of each month. The first edition will air April 1 in the 4 p.m. hour, April 3 in the 8 a.m. hour, and April 5 in the noon hour. The series will also be archived at

The new series is the result of a collaboration with Music-COMP, a music composition mentoring program that matches aspiring students with accomplished composers and supports live performances of their work. Twice a year, a large number of student compositions are featured in public concerts performed by professional musicians at the Music-COMP Opus events. Other performances include collaborations with Vermont ensembles such as the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Youth Orchestra, Burlington Ensemble and more.

"VPR Classical is committed to engaging with younger audiences and showcasing talented musicians of all ages in our region," said VPR Classical Host Joe Goetz.  "I look forward to working with these young composers and the Music-COMP program in the months ahead to share the results of their hard work and good music with VPR Classical listeners everywhere."

The first student composer is Justin Gates of Franklin, Vt., and a senior at Missisquoi Valley Union High School. His piece, written for string quartet, is called "What I Knew Would Come."  It was written last summer at a program for young composers called the String Quartet Project, run by Music-COMP and Vermont composer Erik Nielsen, Gate’s mentor for the piece, in conjunction with Burlington Ensemble. The piece was first performed in Burlington in September 2012. The recording of that performance will be included in the first edition of the Student Composer Showcase.

Gates is a talented young man who has already been accepted to Ithaca College and Berklee College of Music. He is also in the process of writing a piece for Vermont's professional vocal ensemble Counterpoint, and that piece will likely premiere in late April or May of this year.

The Student Composer Showcase is being launched in conjunction with Public Radio Music Month. During the month of April, VPR and VPR Classical will present special programs, conversations, and more to celebrate public radio's contributions to Vermont’s musical landscape.

VPR Classical is a service of Vermont Public Radio and can be heard throughout the state, online at, or via one of VPR’s mobile apps for iPhone or Android. 

[ PHOTOS: Top, Student composer Justin Gates; Bottom, VPR Classical Host Joe Goetz. ]