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New composers

The Southern Oregon Chapter of the National Association of Composers USA will present a fresh repertoire of contemporary chamber music by local composers at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Ashland.

The NACUSA, founded by Henry Hadley in 1933, is devoted to the promotion and performance of American concert hall music. The Southern Oregon Chapter presents several chamber concerts every year, featuring music by its members and other contemporary composers. For each concert, members choose the instrumentation and submit compositions that utilize the instruments available.

This year, the SyZyGy Ensemble will perform new works by local NACUSA members, including William Ashworth, I'lana Cotton, Ken Deveney, Ted Dollarhide, Mark Jacobs, Gina Scaccia, Stephen Truelove and R. Barry Ulrich. The ensemble includes Tessa Brinckman on flute, Marla Kasdorf on clarinet, Tom Stauffer on cello, I'lana Cotton on piano, and mezzo-soprano vocalist Shelly Cox.

"Different pieces have different ways of using these instruments," Cotton says.

Her piece, "WindSong," incorporates soprano, flute, clarinet, piano and maracas. Other pieces may feature only two or three instruments. She says "WindSong" is based on a piece she wrote about an old woman talking to mother wind, sister wind and daughter wind.

"It was my intent to have some of the music be the wind and some of the music be more supportive of the singer, and at the end they come together," she says.

"Chromatic Rag," a work composed by Ashland High School student Nick Temple, winner of the second-annual NACUSA student composition competition, also will be on the evening's program.

Temple, 16, spent three years writing the piece with the assistance of his guitar teacher, Joe Thompson. Temple says the piece, written for piano, was originally a primitive blues rag piece, but a week before he submitted the composition, he incorporated jazz chords into the arrangements.

"I have had a couple years of jazz piano and a couple years of jazz band so I had a new understanding of the harmony I would need for a piece like this," says Temple.

Temple thought the clarinet would complement the piece favorably and went about splitting the instrumentation.

"It's really nice to get to hear a piece I've written performed," he says.

Tickets are $10 and $5 for students. Call 541-488-5506 or visit www.nacusaor.org.