Young Composers Competition: Abigail Schmidt debuts three original pieces solo
Having just watched her piano student play three original pieces, all written by the 14-year-old composer and performed solo, Bonnie Schmidt couldn’t help but be proud of her prized pupil and granddaughter, Abigail Schmidt.
Abigail was one of more than two-dozen children, ages 10 to 18, who submitted original pieces for the Young Composers Competition sponsored by Summit Music and Arts. In the end, three of Abigail’s works — one about a young girl hoping to find a boyfriend, another honoring Jesus and a third that paid tribute to Paul Revere — would be chosen among the entries for a live performance at Monday night’s third annual Young Composers Competition Concert at Summit Middle School.
In all, 13 young composers played their pieces at the concert, some with the help of non-competition musicians to round out a trio or quartet.
After the recital, Bonnie, who has played the piano herself since she was 6 years old and graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in music education, had high praise for her granddaughter.
“I thought she was very poised, had excellent technique and — all of it was program music — so it told a story,” Bonnie said. “I am very proud of her. She is very creative, and she has a real innate sense of form.”
After the concert, during a reception for the young musicians, Abigail made time to answer a few questions about her compositions, talk about what it was like performing them live and discuss her life in general.
Summit Daily News: You composed all three pieces you played today. Tell me about those pieces.
(Bonnie Schmidt added that since being announced as one of the winners of the Young Composers Competition, Abigail has already composed two more songs.
“It just gave her a new flow of inspiration.”)
Abigail Schmidt: The first one I played (“The Melancholy Waltz”), it’s supposed to be about a young girl, kind of like waltzing by herself, wishing she had a boyfriend. I forgot to say it on stage, but there’s a Disney quote that says, “Someday my prince will come,” so when I hear the piece I like to think of her singing to herself, “Someday my prince will come.”
The second piece, (“King of Kings”) is about Jesus Christ being born and being crucified on the cross and him rising form the dead and ascending back into heaven.
The last piece is “The Midnight Ride.” That one is based on Paul Revere’s midnight ride on April 18, 1775.
SDN: Why Paul Revere’s midnight ride?
AS: Well, I don’t know. It just inspires me. I love history so I wanted to write a song about it.
SDN: What were you thinking about while you were trying to compose that piece?
AS: I kind of just fiddled around on the piano and it formed a song. It was going to say “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” but I shortened it to just “The Midnight Ride.”
SDN: Was it at all nerve-racking performing those pieces in front of an audience?
AS: It was a little nerve-racking. It was fun too though. I get a little nervous when I’m talking, but when I play and get into it, I get less nervous.
SDN: How long have you been playing the piano and what is it about this instrument that you enjoy so much?
AS: Four years, and the piano inspires me.
SDN: What’s so inspiring about it? Why do you like the piano over, say a cello or violin?
AS: I think it’s because of the old musicians, like Bach and Mozart. They’re just so inspiring they make me want to keep going with the piano.
SDN: You’re 14 years old. What kinds of music are you into?
AS: I love classical and I love old folk songs, like Frank Sinatra and stuff like that.
SDN: What made you want to write “King of Kings,” the piece you did about Jesus Christ and his resurrection? It seems to come with a very deep meaning to you personally. Is it harder performing pieces with such deep emotions?
AS: I’ve never written a piece about him, and I’m a Christian and I love Jesus so I wanted to write a piece about him. It’s a little hard (performing a piece with such a deep personal meaning), and I’m not used to it, so it was a little nerve-racking to do that, but I wanted to do it.
SDN: What do you do outside of music for fun? What are you interests?
AS: I like to swim. I’m not really much of a skier. I like to ice skate.
SDN: Are you competitive in any of these things?
AS: Not really. I don’t like to compete but I like to play for fun.
SDN: But you won your division in the Young Composers Competition. How did you find out and what was your reaction?
AS: I was really excited. Len Rhodes, I got to go to his house, but my grandma told me about 10 minutes before I got there. And then I went to his house, he told me, “Congratulations.”
SDN: What about when your grandma told you?
AS: I was jumping up and down — so excited.
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