Gwyneth Walker

Vermont Composer to Hear Nevada Premiere of Work

by Kurt Hildebrand, The Nevada Appeal
Published 4/28/01

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Read notes for Symphony of Grace (1999) for orchestra

Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker says she knows the score when it comes to writing music.

The 54-year-old is in Carson City to attend the Nevada premiere of her Symphony of Grace, which is being performed by The Carson City Community Orchestra on Sunday.

Walker is no stranger to Carson City, though her work is performed all across the country.

"Composing music is like breathing to me," she said. "It is a necessity. It's joy. It's also my livelihood and a form of worship and connecting with other people."

Walker attended a rehearsal of the piece on Wednesday and said she rarely worries about a performance.

"With music you have to give it to the performers for it to exist. I have to have the players play it or it's nothing," she said. "I'm usually not too apprehensive."

While Walker writes both long and short pieces, something like Symphony of Grace takes her several months to compose.

"You have to write out all the instruments in the score," she said. "Each instrument has to be shown, not just the notes, but how to play as well."

She said she sometimes finds herself as a cheerleader when attending a rehearsal.

"I like my music to be played with passion," she said. "I spend the time leaping up and down in front of the orchestra."

Often people who play classical music tend to be reserved.

"I would rather they leap into it," she said.

Walker's catalog includes 120 commissioned works for orchestra, band, chorus and chamber ensembles.

"I think I have a complete balance between large works and solo works and chamber ensembles," she said. "It is good to have a balance in your catalog."

In addition to Carson City, Symphony of Grace is being performed in Melbourne, Fl.; Holyoke, Mass.; Allentown, Penn.; Bel Air, Md.; and San Francisco, Ca.

While she enjoys listening to her own compositions and those of others played during a symphony concert, Walker rarely listens to music at home.

"There is no such thing as background music for me," she said. "Where there is any music, even if it is on in the elevator, I'm analyzing it."

When not wrapped up in music, she's likely to be taking a walk on the Braintree, Vt. dairy farm on which she resides or watching ice skating or tennis on television.