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Encouraging the composers of tomorrow thanks to the musicians of today

SCORE coordinator Emily Praetorius works with a student on the SCORE program at Nordoff High School in Ojai
Caroline Feraday
SCORE coordinator Emily Praetorius works with a student on the SCORE program at Nordoff High School in Ojai

The Ojai Music Festival has launched an initiative for high schoolers which supports them learning to compose music.

At Nordoff High School in Ojai, the composers of tomorrow are getting a helping hand from the composers of today.

Rowan Gillooly is working on his own composition on a violin.

"I'm thrilled just to learn from such a pro," said Gillooly.

"It's really the exploration, the trying things on my instrument that I haven't tried before," he explained.

He’s one of a class of students learning to compose their own musical works, on a free 17-week course, called SCORE. It’s an initiative of the Ojai Festival’s music education program.

"I think for a while people who grew up here, actually myself, I grew up here...were a little bit disconnected from the music festival and even sometimes not really knowing what it is," said Emily Praetorius, the SCORE coordinator.

"And then to be able to sort of have this connection and like bring this sort of new world to the students here is really, really important and super exciting for the kids as well," said Praetorius.

It’s an opportunity for the students to learn to find their own compositional voices, and processes – and will culminate in a performance.

Students like Apollo Naghi who is playing a vibrophone.

"It's a pretty nice instrument. It's made a metal, as you can see, and has a pedal," he demonstrates.

"It's a very exciting opportunity, and the collaboration between the Ojai Music Festival, which has been in Ojai for a long time, and the high school is something that we've been wanting to do for a long time," said Bill Wagner, the music director at Nordoff High School.

"Bringing in Emily Pretorius has allowed us to have the opportunity to have a professional composer work with our kids, to get them started on the path to the adventure of writing their own music. And it really is freeing them up to bring ideas to the page and hear some of their creations, said Wagner.

And the four-day Ojai Music festival is slated for June 6-9.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.