Alexis Alrich started piano lessons at age eight with a teacher who encouraged her to start music composition at the same time. Her studies continued at the New England Conservatory of Music, California Institute of the Arts, and with Lou Harrison at Mills College in California. Lou Harrison was a key mentor, and her music is also influenced by West Coast Minimalism, Asian music and Western classical and folk music. Her compositional style is tonal and melodic, using energetic rhythms and colorful timbres to weave a musical narrative.
Ms. Alrich was commissioned by Lynn Schugren to write a one-movement piano
concerto named Sierra Rhapsody, to be performed in 2023. The Oakland Civic Orchestra also commissioned a piece to be premiered on October 23, 2022, called Romance No. 1. Her Marimba Concerto was performed by Dame Evelyn Glennie and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong and released on a Naxos CD in January 2021. “…a textbook performance of an engaging work chock full of musical incident” -- Clive Paget, Musical America.
She was a composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Choral Artists for the 2019-2020 season and composed three pieces, Pedacitos de Cielo, The Railway Train and Psalm 104. She has received numerous grants and commissions from the American Composers Forum, ensembles and individuals, most recently Onward for solo marimba and Voice of the Forest for solo piano, again commissioned by Lynn Schugren. The Orphic Ensemble has taken her percussion quartet, Muse of Fire, on tour to Austria and the U.S. Ms. Alrich’s music is published by Alto Publications in Bristol, England.
Jesse Haennelt is a Film, TV, and Video Game Composer. He was born and raised in the small town of Grass Valley in Northern California. Beginning in high school, he studied with the Music in the Mountains Young Composers Project under composer Mark Vance, leading him to other opportunities with the artistic community of Nevada County, CA. In 2014 he participated in “River Music”, a film about the collaboration between science and music that aired on PBS. In
2015 he became a member of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative board, helping to bring new music to the surrounding area. His music has been performed by groups like the Left
Coast Ensemble and the Music in the Mountains Orchestra and has been featured during the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. Before leaving his hometown to go to college in 2018, he composed the score for “Mr. Gordon” that was premiered at NCTV’s Thru the Lens fundraiser.
Now, Jesse studies Media Composition at California State University Northridge. He has always been deeply passionate about the stories that are told on the screen and fascinated by the people who work behind the scenes to make everything come together. If he is not writing music, he will most likely be found rock climbing, cycling, camping, or playing video games.
Durwynne Hsieh is a composer, cellist, and new guest board member of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative. His music tells stories that focus on elements of the natural and scientific worlds, scenes from everyday life, and other narratives the specifics of which audiences (as well as the composer) are sometimes unsure. Among his recent projects are two collaborations with Nevada City pianist Lynn Schugren, two ballets for Benicia Ballet Theatre, a violin concerto for Rick Shinozaki and San José Chamber Orchestra, chamber music recordings with the Farallon Quintet and the Black Cedar Trio, and a commission from the Toledo Symphony to write a piece in which the audience votes on what comes next. In addition to his concert music, his works have also been put to other diverse uses as dance accompaniment, musical theater pieces, incidental music, wedding ceremony music, and as underscore for science tutorial programs and cooking webisodes. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is also a former college biology teacher and technical writer.
My first music education came in grade school in Idaho. I played the trombone. I grew up by the gorgeous Payette River, the outrageous Snake River, the majestic Seven Devils Mountains and much more. I had wonderful art, music and English teachers in the midst of extraordinary settings of impressive nature. My high school art instructor Mr. Jackman played guitar and sang to focus the class. We were not given attention deficit or depression medication. My art teacher is where the guitar began for me. Then came Army training and the 101st Airborne Division, and off to Vietnam. When I came home from the war it was to the University where I earned three degrees, became a faculty member and taught guitar for a few years. What wonderful times some of those were.
Life always seems to take us to where we are now. Here is my now: Music and Composing. The ambition of my music is to express emotionally accessible beauty, and chronicle some of the pain of our human condition. My compositions: White Bird Pass, Reflections 911 for solo guitar, and cello, Goodbye to Mexico, Solstice, Walking the Yuba River, and Snake River Sunset are just a few examples! These are melodic works in a sometimes slightly modern style. My works reflect nature, both human and natural.
Mark Vance is a composer and music educator living in Nevada City, California. He has played an extensive role composing, teaching, coaching, arranging, conducting and promoting music throughout his community in the rural California Foothills. He is published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing and C. Alan Publications. His CDs It’s About Time! and God, I Love Chamber Music! are available on CD Baby and iTunes. He has served as Executive Director of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative since 2003. Vance is the Education Director for InConcert Sierra where he created and teaches the Composers Project, a music composition program for teens. For more info please visit:
I have been fortunate in my life to have had three overlapping but distinct
careers in music. As a younger woman I enjoyed freelancing as a pianist
and singer; performing chamber music, solo and duo recitals, coaching and
doing some part-time college teaching. Later I took a full time position as
music professor at Los Medanos Community College, where I headed the
piano, theory and recital programs. Now, retired from teaching, I am turning
my focus to composing, a long-neglected love.
My lifelong experience as a performer has given me a great respect for the
discipline, imagination and dedication required to bring any piece of music
to performance level. When I compose, the performers and the listeners
are always close to my heart. Musical composition for me is an act of deep
and honest communication. I sincerely desire that my muse will spark the
muse of others.
Danny Clay is a composer and teaching artist whose work is deeply rooted in curiosity, collaboration, and the sheer joy of making things with people of all ages and levels of artistic experience. Working closely with artists, students, and community members alike, he builds worlds of inquiry, play, and perpetual discovery that integrate elements of sound, movement, theater, and visual design. Games, speculative systems, cognitive puzzles, invented notation, found objects, imaginary archives, repurposed media, micro-improvisations, and happy accidents all make frequent appearances in his work. Recent collaborators include Kronos Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Third Coast Percussion, Volti, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, the People’s Music School of Chicago, the Living Earth Show, Youth Speaks, 826 Valencia, Wu Man, Sarah Cahill, Phyllis Chen, and printmaker Jon Fischer. He has taught at Stanford University, San Francisco State University, the Crowden School, the after-school program Little Opera, and led workshops at K-12 schools and universities throughout the US.
Jake Collins is a musician and composer who grew up in the foothills of Nevada County, CA. At the age of five, he started learning to play the piano and by ten was writing his own music. At twelve, he joined the Young Composers class headed by Mark Vance, which he attended for six consecutive years. He was in his high school choir for three years, followed that with a seventh year in the Young Composers Program serving as a teacher's assistant. With Mark as his mentor, Jake has cultivated extensive skillsets in the fields of orchestral composition and music theory. Throughout his career he has written dozens of compositions ranging from solo piano works to choral arrangements to full orchestral works. Several of these works have been premiered by the Composers Cooperative.
Mikail Graham was a composer, performer, producer, and promoter of music based in Nevada City, California, with family roots dating back to 1851. He has toured extensively over the years throughout Europe, Japan, and the USA, often times accompanying and assisting composer Terry Riley and worked as a producer and mixing engineer for a diverse range of artists of note for KVMR listeners, in 1997 he produced and mixed the CD release Loafer’s Glory for folk legend Utah Phillips which was nominated for a NAIRD award.
He is respected internationally as the co-founder of emagic Inc., the original creators of Logic Pro X, now owned by Apple Computers. Mikail has worked as an evangelical personality and design consultant for numerous music technology companies such as Avid, digidesign, Eventide, Lexicon, Steinberg, Waves, and the Japanese based audio company ZOOM to name but a few.
In 2002 he formed a creative partnership/company “Two Minds Working” with international performance artist/instructor Menlo Macfarlane which has led to several critically acclaimed works He’s been a longtime member of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative and co-founder of Nevada City Music events.
Mikail, an active musician and beloved community member died on July 12, 2022, having been diagnosed with Genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Jerry Grant (born December 31, 1936) is an American film and television music score and theme composer, Musical arranger, and jazz musician.
Composer/Conductor, Grant, spans the music world as a creator of music for television and film, with works for Chorus and Chorus with Ensembles, Chorus with Electronics, Jazz Orchestra, Chamber Ensembles, Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble. He blends jazz, symphonic and dramatic influences into an eclectic style that speaks with compelling imagery. Having had a career in film composition since 1978, Jerry has scored and supervised or conducted over 500 episodes of television film and features.
Born and raised in Detroit, Grant began his career as a jazz/rock studio musician there in Detroit, contributing to Motown Records tracks. He has his B.S. degree from Wayne State University. attended the Detroit Institute of Musical Arts and USC for graduate study and received his master's degree in composition at CSU Northridge. Private study includes Larry Teal, George Tremblay, Ruth Wylie and Lawrence Christensen.
In the Army, Jerry was chosen for the faculty at the band training school. He was chosen to be musical director and arranger for the Rolling Along Show. Relocating to Los Angeles, he worked as a studio musician. He soon began arranging for vocal, string and horn records as well as songwriting, landing a contract at ABC Records. He organized, conducted and composed the library for the 12-piece symphonic Jazz/Fusion group Spectrum for 10 years, from 1971 to 1981. A review in Variety called it "exciting, moody and pulsating, laced with dramatic images." Pete Carpenter heard the group and enlisted him to begin composing as part of a team consisting of him, Grant and fellow TV and film score composer Mike Post, which lasted for another nine years.
He has composed music for films and television during the 1980s and 1990s. Aside from his work with his own band, Spectrum, he also composed and arranged for a new 13-piece jazz orchestra he formed, Nujazz Alternative from 1998 to 2005, recording the album, Rush Hour: Jerry Grant and the L.A Nujazz Alternative.
Grant joined Nevada County Composers Cooperative in the early 2003 and later served as Board President until 2017.
Alto saxophonist/clarinetist Randy McKean is carrying on the tradition of those performer/composers who have revitalized creative music from the inside out, drawing upon its rich history of ideas to produce his own unique forms of expression. Taking sax heroes Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman as initial reference points, McKean’s music draws upon methods of distillation and synthesis pioneered by composers such as Anthony Braxton and Iannis Xenakis in order to fashion an individualized but systematically coherent musical world. Not only music but a multitude of sources inform McKean’s work: the abstract expressionist films of Stan Brakhage and the paintings of Mark Rothko, the multi-tiered writings of Julio Cortazar, Alain Robbe-Grillet and Philip K. Dick, concepts from chaos theory and modern physics, all have influenced his use of form and representation. Motivic and transformational devices such as “articulation zones,” “ghost tones” and “rhythm molds” are at work in McKean’s music, which includes compositions for symphony orchestra, woodwind quintet, string quartet, and saxophone quartet.
McKean leads or co-leads several bands, including the chamber jazz quartet Bristle, the African-trance ensemble Tumble, the saxophone quartet Goggle, the sax/drums duos Pac and Seep and TMBR, and the acoustic-electronics duo The Gargantius Effect. He is a long-time member of Beaucoup Chapeaux, David Dvorin’s Flounder, and Ludi Hinrichs’ Chickenbonz. McKean’s releases include the CDs Wild Horsey Ride, Flounder’s I’m the Flounder (Cure-All), Goggle’s Eeyahdi (Cure-All), Tumble’s Waves (Cure-All) and Music for Trio (Bandcamp), Bristle’s Future(s) Now(s) (Queen Bee) and Bulletproof (Edgetone), So Dig This Big Crux (Rastascan), the Great Circle Saxophone Quartet’s Child King Dictator Fool (New World), and the electronic releases Pac and Seep’s Cap and Piece and Live at Earthtone (Bandcamp), and Gargantius Effect +1+2+3(w/Han-earl Park, Gino Robair & Scott Looney). He studied with trumpeter Paul Smoker and composers Anthony Braxton and David Rosenboom. He has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City, and since 2002, he has lived in Grass Valley, California, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. His radio show The Outpost aired on Nevada City’s KVMR from 2007 to 2012.
McKean served as a composer and member of the NCCC board from 2003-2014.
for more info see: www.randymckean.co
Binns Melander attended the University of the Pacific and the Eastman School of Music. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in piano and composition at Eastman. In 1959 Melander was asked to perform the first movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto with the Stockton Symphony.
As an active member of the U.S. Marine Band, he performed with a jazz trio at the White House. He also performed two to three times a week as background music (alternating with string groups and a small orchestra) at receptions, state dinners and small dances under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford.
Melander has taught, arranged, composed and performed yearly concerts of his music in Auburn, California. Since 2004, Melander has performed his works in piano concerts in Auburn. Since 2012, he has worked with violist, David Thorp and pianist, Qi-Qing and many others in string ensembles and piano works. This group has performed his three Chamber Piano Concertos and his three Chamber Symphonies (all based on Melander’s piano sonatas). They have also performed numerous sets of variations for jazz, as well as classical strings and piano including vocalist, Terry Brown.
At last count, Melander has 12 recorded concerts on his YouTube channel. InConcert Sierra also has 2 concerts on their YouTube channel. Pianist, Lynn Schugren, has performed both Melander’s first and second Chamber Piano Concertos as part of the Nevada County Composers Cooperative New Music series.
Motoshi Kosako was born in Japan and started his musical training on piano and also guitar. He played acoustic and electric guitar in professional Jazz bands in Tokyo. In 1997, he moved to California and soon after he started playing the harp. He is primarily self-taught and played for Stockton Symphony Orchestra as the principal harpist from 2006-2010. In 2007 he won the second place in Lyon & Healy International Jazz & Pop Harp Competition. His groundbreaking style is noted in Harp Column as “Motoshi Kosako, whose introspective soloing was reminiscent of Keith Jarrett.” He performs improvisation and original compositions as solo or in ensembles with top jazz musicians including Grammy award winning reeds player, Paul McCandless, master acoustic bassist, Bill Douglass, innovative electric fret-less bassist, Michael Manring. He released 2 classical solo CDs and 10 jazz albums. He regularly tour Japan to give concert, lectures and workshops.
Bruce Nalezny (b. 1948) currently resides in Berkeley, CA with his wife, French pianist, Annie Devize-Nalezny. He has been composing since the age of seven, when he began learning to the play the piano and the organ. He graduated from UC Berkeley in 1971 and immediately began his career as a freelance musician and piano broker. He has lived periodically in Paris, France where he held positions in numerous municipal and private conservatories and schools. His compositions have won praise from such notables as the French musicologist Jacques Chailley who observed that in Bruce’s music “classical harmonic tradition and contemporary musical expression are as one” and Christian Manen, professor at the Paris Conservatory, who described Bruce’s work as “profoundly inspired music”. Most recently, he composed several song sets based on poetry by the award winning Berkeley based poet, Nellie Hill. His “Passacaglia for Organ” was just premiered by Cristoph Tietze, organist and music director at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. Several recordings of Bruce’s music are available on YouTube.
Sydeman’s life mirrors the breadth and variety of his music. Born in New York in 1928 and educated at Manhattan’s Mannes School of Music, he quickly became one of the most sought-after and honored composers of his generation, receiving commissions from such prestigious groups as the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Tanglewood Music Center, and the Boston Symphony, which premiered his orchestral work in memory of John F. Kennedy in 1966. “Sydeman uses a whole battery of far out techniques,” wrote the New York Times, “but he has an uncanny ability to throw in the whole avant-garde machinery as if it were the simplest, most normal way of making music in the world.
In 1970, after a heady period that included awards from the National institute of Arts and Letters, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and library of Congress, Sydeman left New York - and composition - to begin a journey of personal and artistic exploration. settling in Hawaii, “I’d done very well (in New York),” Mr. Sydeman said in a recent interview, “but I felt trapped, caught in a kind of style warp. I was writing music that was thought of very highly and some part of me didn’t feel quite comfortable writing.”
In 1981, Mr. Sydeman returned to the mainland, began teaching at the Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California, “Around 1980,” he has written, “I returned to composition - at first a large number of choral works which reconnected me to the source of all music - the human voice.