It was an ordinary day at work for Emmaline Sanders at Moore Brothers Music in Sammamish. That is, until she learned she had been selected as the winner of the Issaquah Philharmonic Orchestra’s (IPO) Young Composer Competition.
The IPO launched its first Young Composer Competition Sept. 1, 2017. Sue Byron, the president for IPO, said the orchestra launched this competition to support young composers, support music education as well as celebrate the “natural beauty” of Issaquah and Washington state.
Sanders submitted her composition almost a year ago. Since she hadn’t heard any kind of response, she assumed she didn’t win.
What she didn’t realize was that her four-movement musical piece was selected among a handful of impressive submissions across the state.
It was November 2018 when Byron made the surprise visit to Sanders’ work — informing her that she had won.
“I was so surprised,” Sanders said. “I had almost completely forgotten about the competition but I’m so thrilled my piece was chosen.”
The competition had a broad theme: the Salish Sea. Composers were asked to create a music piece that was inspired by the Salish Sea. The orchestra suggested the Salish Sea theme because it holds an ecological treasure of global significance with thousands of natural animal species.
“We picked it because we thought it is such an important part to our community and we wanted to be able to highlight [the] significance it has on us and our community,” Byron said.
Sanders has deep roots in music. She began playing piano at 5 years old. She transitioned to oboe in middle school and joined a youth orchestra in Utah. Sanders completed her bachelor’s degree in media composition at Brigham Young University and has scored several short films, stage productions and video games.
For Sanders, writing for this competition proved to have a few challenges, yet she said she loves the final product.
“It was a bit of a stretch to go back to writing in a more classical style,” she said. “But I had so much fun.”
She said she did extensive research on the Salish Sea in order to “get the feel of its culture.”
“I decided to have one theme per movement,” she said. “I wanted to show the different moods and sides of [the Salish sea].”
Sanders dedicated time for composing the piece every day for a couple weeks.
“While it was a challenging piece to write, it’s been rewarding to see it all come together and in a way I didn’t expect,” she said.
Since Sanders learned she won the competition, the IPO has been rehearsing her piece to perform.
IPO will be debuting “The Four Impressions of the Salish Sea” during its free community performance on March 18 at Skyline High School in Sammamish.
“The orchestra is committed to allowing people to experience live shows,” Byron said. “We always get up and meet members of our audience during intermission.We want anyone and everyone to be able to enjoy music and that’s why we love holding these free performances.”
Sander’s piece will also be performed at a second concert on May 20. This concert will be the fourth annual Food Raiser concert to support the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.