Medford High School senior Diego Velasquez will have one of his musical compositions performed during an evening of new concert hall music - NACUSAsor

New American composers

New music is being composed all the time. Writers are busy creating new pieces in practically every style from hip-hop to movie soundtracks. And even in the classical-style.

The National Association of Composers USA, founded by Henry Hadley in 1933, is one of the oldest organizations devoted to the promotion and performance of American concert hall music.

The organization presents several chamber concerts each year that feature music by its members and other contemporary composers, and it holds a national competition for new music by American composers between the ages of 18 and 30. Many of America's most distinguished 20th-century composers were members of NACUSA.

The Southern Oregon chapter will present an evening of new compositions at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at the Congregational United Church of Christ, 717 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

On the program will be the winning composition in the chapter's first student composition competition, "Fantasy Quintet," by Diego Velásquez, a senior at North Medford High School.

Velásquez played bass for his school orchestra and for the jazz band. He has written many pop songs since the start of his freshman year, and he began writing classical pieces in December 2008 as part of his senior project.

He also has written a song for his school chamber orchestra and has composed many piano pieces since the beginning of 2009.

Velásquez plans to expand his knowledge of music theory in San Francisco, where he'll attend college this fall, and he aspires to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

His long-term goals are to become the director of a string orchestra at the high-school or college level and compose in his spare time.

Two other "musicians of the future" will be featured performers in Velásquez's winning composition. Violinist Chris Scherer, who now studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, attended high school in the Rogue Valley, and was a concerto winner with the Youth Symphony of Southern Oregon.

Ashley Hoe will be playing violin for the piece. She attends Ashland High School and studies piano with Kristina Foltz, violin with Faina Podolnaya, and flute with Debra Harris.

Also on the program the SyZyGy Ensemble will perform new chamber works by NACUSsor members William Ashworth, I'lana Cotton, David Rogers, Stephen Truelove, R. Barry Ulrich and Mark Jacobs for flute, oboe, violin, cello, piano, and guitar in various combinations.

Jacobs' piece, "The Island," is a trio for alto flute, viola and guitar inspired by the 1915 composition "Sonata" for flute, viola and harp by Claude Debussy. The composer completed the piece three years before his death.

Jacobs says that his composition takes the emerging neoclassicism of late Debussy in some new directions while honoring much of its mood and expression.

The performance will be a world premiere and will feature Harris, alto flute; Patricia Berlet, viola, and David Rogers, guitar.

Jacobs is an adjunct professor in low brass, music theory and composition at Southern Oregon University. He is the trombonist in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of "The Music Man" and principal trombone in the Rogue Valley Symphony.

Tickets are $10, at the door, $5 for students.

Call 488-5506.

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