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HB sophomore wins competition for her original jazz piece

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Amy Norton '19 places first place in the NHMEA Composition Contest for her original Jazz piece

Amy Norton '19 places first place in the NHMEA Composition Contest for her original Jazz piece "Nebula." In this contest, students from kindergarten to college compose songs of any genre and compete against one another in four divisions, based on grade level.

Courtesy of David Umstead

Courtesy of David Umstead

Amy Norton '19 places first place in the NHMEA Composition Contest for her original Jazz piece "Nebula." In this contest, students from kindergarten to college compose songs of any genre and compete against one another in four divisions, based on grade level.

Leslie Comeau, Features Editor

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The NHMEA Composition Contest is an event where students from kindergarten to college compose songs of any genre and compete against one another in four divisions, based on grade level. The contest ended February 1, and the results were announced March 15. In the high school division, HB’s own Amy Norton ‘19 won first place with her jazz piece “Nebula.”

Norton plays a variety of instruments, but most often plays the trumpet and French horn for the Honors Jazz Band. For All-State this year, she placed 2nd in the state for her instrument. She also took music teacher David Umstead’s Music Theory and Composition class during the first semester of this year, but  according to Umstead, she had started composing the piece before she had even entered the classroom.“What Amy’s been doing is far above what we do in Theory,” he said. “We don’t compose anything that big.”

Had Amy not taken the class, she might not have entered the contest at all. “Mr. Umstead was the one who got me interested,” Norton said. He was also a very valuable resource for her as he has composed many songs.

“We’re actually playing one of my songs right now, and we played one for last year’s jazz night,” Umstead said. However, despite his extensive experience, he assures that he really didn’t have much to do with Norton’s piece. Her abundant talent and capability to create music was enough, he clarified.

Her piece, “Nebula,” was inspired by the music of the 1920’s, and, as described by the composer herself, has a sort of “speakeasy” feel. It’s intended to be played by a jazz ensemble, and has 17 individual parts.

This year’s NHMEA All-State festival was held from Thursday March 30 to Saturday April 1. During the event, Norton was presented with a certificate, and her song, “Nebula,” was played in front of the NHMEA members in attendance.

Listen to “Nebula” by Norton below, courtesy of Umstead:

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The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School
HB sophomore wins competition for her original jazz piece