5 Questions to the 2019-20 Luna Composition Lab Fellows

The Kaufman Music Center’s Luna Composition Lab is a program that brings together a cohort of female, non-binary, and gender non-conforming composers between 13 and 18 years of age. Co-founded by Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid, the program’s participants have gone on to work with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Opera Omaha, members of the Louisville Symphony, and the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Rather than asking our customary five questions to a single artist, I asked each of the five Luna Composition Lab fellows one question:

How has the training you’ve received through the Luna Composition Lab complemented the music education that your schools and extracurricular programs provide?

Olivia Bennett

Since the initiation of my participation in Luna Composition Lab, I have felt extremely involved and free to reach out to the mentors and staff in this program. During my time working with my mentor, Dr. Kristin Kuster, I have not only received advice on technical aspects of my new work, but also on the emotional and mindful process of creating it. Along with the other camps and programs that I have attended as a musician, Luna Lab has developed me into a stronger musician by providing me the opportunity of workshopping my piece with musicians and other composers. Because I do not attend a school with a music program, I do not have much access to musical activities or teaching. Luna Lab has provided me with mentorship, masterclasses, and workshops that have radically improved my confidence and ability to write music! Working with such lovely people in a space where we can all talk about what we love and share in common is an extraordinary thing to experience—especially as a composer. It is not often that we find people who share the same passions as we do, and Luna Lab has provided me the opportunity to connect in that way. I am ever so thankful for everyone who made this program possible, and I will forever benefit from it!

KiMani Bridges

My training that I received through the Luna Composition Lab was not what I expected. I didn’t know that it would be so helpful in my schooling and be an aid to the start of my career. Because of this program, I have a greater understanding of music. I have been given information and encouraged to research instruments outside of the woodwind family, have been exposed to new music, and taught about notation and how to dictate my ideas better. This has translated into my school work and has helped improve my ability to understand musical concepts better. The program has also helped me in a social aspect. The mentors in the program have helped me prepare for college by giving me mock interviews, reviewing my emails, and connecting me to other musicians and college professors/directors; because of this, I was well prepared in my auditions. The most important thing that I have benefited from with Luna Lab is the boost in confidence. Being in this program has aided me in learning how to trust myself, think realistically, and to believe in my craft. I don’t think I could, in words, be able to describe how much that means to me. I am and always will be grateful for what this program has offered me and I give even more gratitude to my Luna Lab Fellows and my mentor Ellen Reid.

Madeline Clara Cheng

The journey I have made as a Luna Composition Lab Fellow has changed the way I listen to and appreciate music. My ears have opened more to explore the freedom and transcendence of tonality, rhythm, and sound, fostering a greater love for music and comprehension of the relationship between composer, performer, and listener. I have become more enamored by the musical ingenuity in many of the works I come across in my school concert band, classical piano realm, and jazz collectives. The supportive community of mentors, Fellows, and staff is also not unlike the family I have found and loved among the ensembles and intensives back at home. Ever since I began training with my mentor, Tamar Muskal, I have developed more confidence as a composer and a better understanding of the potential we have as artists to express ourselves in our creative freedom. The theory, musicianship, and performance education I have received in school and extracurricular programs have given me the foundational tools to discover an outlet and cathartic delight in music composition, and Luna Lab has helped immensely to expand that enjoyment. I am forever grateful to Luna Composition Lab for the opportunities it presents to work with such incredible role models, performers, and peers that share my same passion for creating music.

Ebunoluwa Oguntola

Training through Luna Composition Lab has complemented the music education I have been receiving from other musical educational programs I participate in. I feel like composition is under-emphasized in schools, which is why seeing young composers isn’t as popular as seeing just a young musician. I was fortunate enough to be able to enter into the world of composition with amazing teachers to support me, including those from Luna Lab. I am so privileged and honored to have these intellectual mentors, specifically Reena Esmail, guide and immerse me into a musical experience. Reena has taught me so many things that have not only inspired my music, but have also allowed me to view various ideas through a different lens. She has given me a stronger understanding of music that I can apply to everything I play, listen to, or write. Luna Lab has provided me with amazing opportunities and exposure.

Sage Shurman

Luna Composition Lab has enhanced my previous music education through teaching me how to write for real people. Though I have been playing piano for eleven years, I have only been studying composition for two. I study composition privately with professor Ian Krouse at UCLA about every other week. I do not take music at school because my school is small and they only offer general courses. Because I have not composed for very long, until Luna Lab, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to have performers play any of my pieces. Knowing that musicians were going to play my piece greatly changed my writing experience. With the help of my mentor Gity Razaz, I learned to think harder about what I was writing in terms of how it would sound performed rather than just how it sounded on my computer. I also learned what was a good idea and what wasn’t through listening to the performers rehearse my piece. Luna Lab showed me a whole different aspect of composing that I hadn’t really seen before with Professor Krouse.