Local composer featured at Wartburg Community Symphony concert this weekend | Best Stories

WAVERLY, Iowa (KWL) — When you think of a composer, the image of someone who lived decades or even centuries ago probably comes to mind. However, this weekend, the Wartburg Community Symphony presents a piece by a composer found deep in Cedar Valley.

“There’s a lot of forward momentum with the symphony. We kind of came in and started running,” said Rebecca Nederhiser, director of the Wartburg Community Symphony.

Denzel Washington (no, not the actor) developed a passion for music as a child. As an adult, he is now a composer and his work will be performed live.

“It was in third grade that I was able to pick up the recorder for the first time. I looked awful, but I enjoyed it so much. I continued to play a lot and got better It was just a lot of fun and I haven’t stopped making music ever since,” Washington said.

Washington credits his wife with bringing his music to Wartburg.

“She started talking and she said to him [Rebecca] on me as a composer. Rebecca really enjoys collaborating with living artists, so that connection was made,” he said.

Nederhiser decided to put some of Washington’s work into their Saturday gig. It is something new for her, and for the orchestra, that the real composer of the piece attends a rehearsal.

“That was great. He worked with the symphony during one of our rehearsals. It was so refreshing. I could walk up behind me and say ‘did you mean Denzel? Are you okay? ‘ It’s just a fun experience all around,” Nederhiser said.

For Washington as a composer, there is a bit of magic when it comes to hearing his own piece performed aloud for the first time.

“It’s almost breathtaking to see all of your efforts come to life,” he said.

It is part of the The music speaks performance on Saturday February 19 at 2 p.m.

It features not only Washington, but other works as well. The concert opens with Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite I and will end with In the Hall of the Mountain King. To celebrate Black History Month, the concert also features works by black composers like William Grant Still and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Guest artist Clare Longendyke will perform Piano concerto in one movement by composer Florence Price.

Tickets can be purchased here.

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