The Paterson Effect – Did You Say Taser?

This is my third week in residence with the VYOA, and like everyone else, I am very much looking forward to the announcement of who will be named the Music Director of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. These next few years will be an exciting time for VYOA and I am so glad to be a part of it.

This weekend, the VYO will present the world premiere of a newer version of my orchestral work Enlightened City, conducted by Andrew Massey at the Dibden Center for the Arts at Johnson State College, and at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington. The piece is a “new version” because I heard that the VYO harp and oboe players are really good, and since I always heard these instruments in my piece (at least inside my head), I decided to add them into my original score.

One of my first activities this week was visiting the third and fifth grade classes at the Wheeler Integrated Arts Academy. (Everyone remembered me! That  made me happy.) It is amazing to see such diversity in one classroom, even by New York City standards, where I am living now. There are kids from all over the world, some with truly tragic backgrounds or even orphaned. Many were relocated to Vermont, and I cannot think of a nicer and more supportive community. They all seem like great kids, a few very shy, others extremely vocal, but all very enthusiastic about learning music. After constructing a simple composition using only rhythm and dynamics and having them play it using percussion instruments, there was a question and answer session. The oddest question I received, by far, was, “As a composer, have you ever been tased?” I didn’t even know how to respond to that! Perhaps the person thought I said I was a conductor? (Just kidding!)

I was also asked, multiple times, how much money I make. I thought this was interesting, particularly since we are in the middle of a recession. Most composers are not driven by thoughts of becoming rich unless they write commercial or pop music, but this was a valid question nevertheless, and I answered it as best I could. For those who are curious, I address this further on my personal blog.

Yesterday I did a radio interview with VPR Classical host Walter Parker. I was also interviewed with student soloist Tim Woos for a piece that appeared in today’s Burlington Free Press, and I was interviewed by the Plattsburgh Press Republican for a piece that also appeared in today’s issue. Perhaps the most interesting comment of the two interviews came from Tim, who said that he doesn’t really get nervous when his music is premiered. I wish I could say the same! As a composer, I always want my music represented accurately and played as musically as possible, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. Then, the audience thinks that is the way the music should sound—wrong notes and all. It will be interesting to see if Tim feels the same way if he ever receives any not-so-perfect interpretations down the road, but I certainly hope he receives only excellent performances.

Finally, yesterday I met with Sandi MacLeod, the director of the Vermont MIDI Project, to discuss making keyboard percussion videos next summer. She knows I am a percussionist as well as a composer and since I am bringing my five-octave marimba to VT next summer, it seemed like the perfect time to do this project. The videos will be instructional, meant to help high school and grade school students write for a variety of instruments, including xylophone, vibraphone, marimba, orchestral bells and chimes. If all goes well, these videos will be available for free and online next fall.

My week is not over yet…I will report back after Enlightened City is premiered this weekend. Stay tuned!

Rob Paterson, VYOA Music Alive Composer-in-Residence

Robert Paterson is the Music Alive Composer-in-Residence with the VYOA. Music Alive is a national residency program of the League of American Orchestras and Meet The Composer.

Concert Information:

Friday, January 22 at 8:00 pm
Dibden Center for the Arts, Johnson State College
Tickets: Adults/Seniors $10; students 12 and under $5;
JSC faculty & students FREE
802-635-1476 or

Sunday, January 24 at 3:00 pm
Flynn Center for the Performing Arts
Tickets: Adults/Seniors: $15, $12, $10; Students: $12, $10, $6
802-86-Flynn or

Photo: Kyle Martel – Courtesy Barre-Montpelier Times Argus

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

15 − one =