Grass Valley, CA – Young composers may hold the key to classical music’s future.  Seventeen young composers in InConcert Sierra’s “Composers Project with Mark Vance will showcase their first semester original compositions in “Poetry in Song” at 3pm on Sunday, March 20 in Grass Valley.

“Poetry in Song” features creative new works for voice and one instrument using a poem of the composer’s choice that they have set to music. ICS Education Director, composer and instructor Mark Vance has the students select a poem of their choice, analyze the text and identify a natural musical rhythm that is set to music. “Much more challenging than it sounds,” said Vance.

Young Composer Class 2022
Photo of Young Composers 2022 by Annette Dunklin

In January, the students had the opportunity to meet via Zoom with Kory Reid, vocalist in the world-renowned male voice choir, Chanticleer. “They are brilliant students, truly. So smart and full of passion for writing music. They impressed me with some profound questions,” said Reid. 

All pieces were composed by local youth, ages 14-18. The poetry chosen includes works by Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, C.K. Williams, Edgar Albert Guest, and others.

Their finished works will be performed by accomplished singers and professional musicians. The singers are Beth Gillogy, Rebekah Freeman, Robbie Merchant, Janet Rossman, Alison Skinner, Toby Thomas-Rose, Jamie Tomas-Rose, Stan Thomas-Rose, Erin Thomas-Rose. The professional musicians will be James May, guitar; Elizabeth McAllister, clarinet; Sage Po, harp; Ken Hardin & Lynn Schugren, piano; including composer student Egan Rogers on bass.

A delightful surprise for many will be hearing Alison Skinner, who is the music director and conductor of InConcert Sierra’s Sierra Master Chorale. 

The Composers Project is a nine-month program that explores all aspects of composition, including music theory, notation, finding inspiration, music history, writing for instrument families, and public speaking. The students meet and work with guest musicians, artists, and composers. Their original works are performed by professional musicians.

Reid commented on Mark Vance’s tutelage “…an amazing program. You (Mark) are such a wonderful light to these students. What an amazing opportunity for them!”

The concert will be at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley on Sunday, March 20 at 3pm. InConcert Sierra’s Covid audience restrictions include a vaccinated-only attendance policy with masks required indoors.

InConcert Sierra, is a Nevada County non-profit organization that presents classical music stars from today’s international stage, as well as emerging young artists, and local and regional professional musicians. Its “Bach to the Future” robust music education offerings provide immersive experiences for all ages. Founded in 1946, ICS is celebrating 75 years as an integral part of Nevada County’s arts community.

For more information, please visit or call 530-273-3990.

What: InConcert Sierra “Bach to the Future” Education Programs

Composers Project “Poetry in Song”
When: Sunday, March 20, 2022 • 3pm
Where: Peace Lutheran Church

828 West Main Street, Grass Valley

Tickets: $20 general; youth 5-17 free with adult (tickets required)