Symphony to honor 14-year-old’s work

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—Abigail Heaton, 13, a young composer who won a Grand Junction symphony competition.Art to go with Melinda’s O&A story.Sent as 032010 OA Heaton 1.



Abigail Heaton’s piece, “His Return,” will be performed during the annual Children’s Concert at 11 a.m. March 27 at the Grand Junction High School. The Children’s Concert features the Grand Valley Children’s Choir and Mesa State College dancers and the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra.

The music and dancing focuses on Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.”

Tickets are $5 for children 12 and younger and $15 for adults. The show is child-friendly.

The symphony also will perform Heaton’s melody during its spring show, “Stravinsky: The Firebird,” at 7:30 p.m. April 1 at the Grand Junction High School.

The April concert and ballet is geared toward an older audience and will include Mesa State dancers and guest artists Amy Earnest and Lance Hardin.

Tickets range in price from $15 to $25.

Abigail Heaton didn’t need years of musical experience to write her first piece of music.

At 14, Heaton won the Crystal Baton competition sponsored by the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra. Her melody, “His Return,” includes a key change, a bridge and variations in the core melody.

“All you have to do is listen to it, and you’ll know why she won,” said Michael Schwerin, the symphony’s executive director.

Heaton, who turned to her Mormon faith for the tune’s inspiration, has the melody memorized and is proud of her final work. As part of the reward for winning the first Crystal Baton award, the symphony paid to have Heaton’s melody orchestrated. At its April 1 concert, 45-piece symphony will play “His Return” before Heaton receives her crystal baton and a copy of her piece’s score.

Heaton wrote the melody on her family’s living room piano is excited to hear an orchestra play her music.

Members of the Grand Junction symphony decided to hold a composing contest for middle school students to encourage children’s musical creativity.

In the first year of the competition, nearly 15 children entered with pieces that had to be between 16 to 64 bars. The symphony did not put a geographical boundary on the competition and envisions it eventually pulling in entries from across the Western Slope.

Heaton is from Fruita where she is one of 10 children, all of whom are musicians.

In fact, the Heaton Family Band performs at community functions and rest homes.

Now, a member of the Heaton family is a composer.

“I am excited,” Heaton said.


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