2016 Young Composers Program

The 2016 Young Composers Program is a composition class offered by Fordham University. Each of the 13 students enrolled next semester will compose a short piece for 2 to 4 instruments among this instrumentation: Violin, Viola, Cello, Clarinet, Horn and Piano.  The class will be given on a weekly basis by Dr. Daniel Ott at Fordham University (Lincoln Center) starting in January 2016 and culminating with a performance of all compositions at the Dimenna Center on Monday, May 2, at 7:30pm.



Meet the 2016 Young Composers

Andrew Abbensett

Ben Carbone

Joanna Connolly

Rosemary Derocher, 22


Rosemary grew up in New York, Illinois, and Virginia, spending the most time just outside of Albany, NY. She has been playing piano since age six and saxophone since age 12, in addition to being self-taught on guitar, banjo, ukulele, and whatever other instruments she can find (this includes the concertina). She is grateful for all of the playing opportunities afforded to her in high school in jazz bands, wind ensembles, rock bands, and pit orchestras. Rosemary is now a senior majoring in English and minoring in Music at Fordham College Rose Hill. In December 2015, the Fordham Jazz Orchestra in cooperation with Jazz at Lincoln Center played her first large scale composition and arrangement, "Tumble Dry Low." She loves the look on someone's face when they know they've just heard or played something that sounded really good.

Sarah Homer, 21


Sarah was born and raised on Long Island but considers the Bronx her second home after three and a half incredible years at Fordham University's Rose Hill campus, where she majors in English and minors in music.  She began studying the piano at age seven and the clarinet at age nine, and spent middle and high school working her way through all six levels of NYSSMA on piano, clarinet, and vocals, as well as performing in various school and extracurricular bands and choruses.  These days, she primarily plays the clarinet in pit bands, a passion she discovered during high school thanks to the guidance of some of the best music teachers on the planet.  Sarah is very much looking forward to working with the incredibly talented members of the Exponential Ensemble to try her hand at composing!

Jessica Jones

Ross Lampert, 21


Born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Ross always brings a love for music with him wherever he goes. Starting with piano lessons at the age of five before switching to saxophone through middle and high school, Ross has always experimented with songwriting and composition, a process that only grew as he joined various garage bands outside of school. Encouraged to learn other instruments and contribute his own songs, Ross picked up electric bass, drums, and eventually guitar, which has acted as his primary instrument and tool of composition for the past six years, writing instrumentals and lyrical songs in his spare time. Though he has little experience writing from a traditional composer's standpoint, Ross hopes to bring his unique experiences with the music world out of his comfort zone and into the 2016 Young Composers Program.

Brian Reynolds, 20


Brian Reynolds is a junior music and economics double major from East Northport, New York. He has been studying percussion since the age of 10, playing in bands and orchestras all throughout middle and high school. Currently, he serves as president of the Fordham University band and orchestra, student conductor of the pep band and drummer for the Fordham Jazz Collective. He has also undertaken independent study to compose original pieces while at Fordham, working with Dr. DeCusatis over the past two semesters. In his spare time, Brian enjoys exploring the city and attending live concerts. 

Shannon Rockett

Rebecca Su

Holly Wang

Linnea Willey

Daniel Wilson, 21


Daniel Wilson, hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia, but currently resides in New York City, where he studies philosophy at Fordham University and piano performance at Juilliard. He has worked most prominently with Adelaide Roberts at Juilliard and Dr. Carl Cranmer at West Chester University. Over the past few years, he has participated in the Philadelphia International Music Festival, performed with the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra, and appeared at venues such as the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. He most recently worked as the music director for Fordham University’s production of A Chorus Line and possesses particular interest in the repertoire of French composers. 

2014 Young Composers Program

The 2014 Young Composers Program was an official composition class offered by Fordham University. Each of the 16 students enrolled this semester were asked to compose a 3 to 5 minutes long piece using any combination of these instruments: clarinet, violin, viola and cello.  The class is given on a weekly basis by Dr. Daniel Ott (right) at Fordham University.


Exponential Ensemble visited Dr. Daniel Ott's class five times to read drafts and guide the students in their compositional process.  The program culminated with a performance of all the works in front of students, teachers and a special jury on April 10, 2014 at Fordham University. This year the jury selected two pieces to be performed on May 12, 2014 during Exponential Ensemble's Season 3 Finale at the National Opera Center.  


Nora Linde and Danielle Mendez were the 2014 Young Composers Program Winners. 

Meet the 2014 Young Composers

Nicholas Cheung, 22


Born and raised in Queens, NY, Nicholas Cheung started piano lessons when he was eight. He is classically trained in piano and participated in and won many competitions. In addition to his major in Business Administration, he has a minor in music to compliment his musical upbringing.  He transferred to Fordham University from Clark University in 2011, the beginning of his sophomore year. Nicholas is currently in his final semester of Fordham University. For more information or to check out  his music, please go to http://nickpiano.com/

For our first visit we answered questions the students had about the instruments...

Dan Gibney, 22


Born and raised in and around the Bronx, Dan will be graduating from Fordham this May with a degree in Music and American Studies.  He grew up playing Irish music on the piano and the accordion and frequently performs at Irish cultural festivals throughout the U.S. and occasionally abroad.  Unless something goes horribly awry, he will be attending a graduate program in musicology in NYC next fall.  This is Dan's first attempt at composing, and he's so grateful to all of the members of the Exponential Ensemble for their advice!

We also talked about the importance of choosing key signatures and how it affects the character of a piece.

Hyocheong Hong, 21


Hyocheong Hong came to America in 2002 and was raised in New Jersey. Early on, she learned to play the piano but did not gain interest in music until she joined her school chorus during elementary school. Since music did not play an big part in her family, she was only able to interact with music through school. In 2006, she began to learn the cello and joined her church orchestra. Until high school, Hyocheong has been singing in the choir and has recently joined the University choir as well. Although she never imagined herself to be a composer, she looks forward to what she will learn through this workshop. Hyocheong is a music major in Fordham College at Lincoln Center.

For our second visit, the students presented us with preliminary drafts.

Troy Krusz, 20


Troy Krusz is a guitarist and vocalist from Mt. Vernon, New York. He began violin and piano lessons in grade school and started teaching himself to play the guitar at age 12. In middle school and high school Troy played with his school band, various rock bands and as a solo act throughout Westchester, the Bronx and Manhattan. He currently is studying at Fordham College at Lincoln Center and will graduate in 2015 with a double major in Music and Classical Languages. Troy has a passion for studying and playing early Blues, Folk and Traditional music, as well as Jazz, Rock and more. He enjoys spending his time reading, writing poetry, and watching live music.

This first reading enabled the students to combine different ideas together in some sort of "musical patch work". This exercise is very important in a composer's creative process.

Vianka Lemus, 23


Vianka Lemus was born in San Diego, California and began piano lessons when she was four. As a child she performed in a yearly recital under her teacher at the time, Inessa Novikova. The recitals were held in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico at the cultural center, and as many as 500 people attended.  Now a classically trained pianist, she is recieving further guidance under Irina Rees thanks to Fordham's Boyce Music Scholarship.  Vianka will be graduating this May with a Bachelors in Music, and plans (for now) to take her studies back to the west coast in 2015.

6/8 and 3/4 time signatures are mathematically the same but don't necessarily feel the same!

Nora Linde, 23


Nora Linde was born and raised in New York City.  Music has been a big part of her life since elementary school when she started studying piano, joined church choir, and began studying harp with Mariko Anraku, Associate Principal Harpist of the Met Opera.  Nora has played harp in church settings and at parties.  She also sings in the choir at Fordham University where she is a junior music major with political science and French minors.  Nora composed her first piece at age six.  The follow-up to "Catwalk" has been a long time coming, but she hopes it will be worth the wait.

For the 3rd and 4th visits we went deeper into the compositional process, talking about harmony and voice leading.

Joey LoVoi, 21


Joey was born in Washington, D.C. but did not begin studying music until after he and his family had moved to Brussels, Belgium in 2004.  He started out as a trumpet player in his middle school band and piano lessons shortly followed.  Four years later he moved back to the US to the hometown of both his parents Tulsa, Oklahoma.  At the start of high school Joey joined his school choir and also began to learn how to play the guitar and the electric bass.  During this time he played guitar, piano, and occasionally bass in a number of different bands around Tulsa, one of which participated in the city's battle of the bands.  Joey is a music major currently in his fourth year at Fordham College at Lincoln Center.  

String bowings and articulation...

Charlie Martin, 22

Born and raised outside of Atlanta, Charlie Martin is a National Hispanic Merit Scholar and young composer working in New York's flourishing new music scene. In addition to Philosophy and Music majors in the Honors College, Charlie has also pursued four years of rigorous musical studies at The Juilliard School's Evening Division, as well as working as Creative Outreach Director for Silicon Alley social media start-up, ShowAmerica. Charlie has composed and arranged pieces for orchestral, choral, chamber, liturgical, and other settings.  He has collaborated with Corona Youth Music Project, a Queens-based branch of the globalEl Sistemamovement, and was the first Fordham student to combine music with the service-learning credit offered by theDorothy Day Center for Service and Justice.  He is humbled to have been recipient of Fordham's Departmental Piano Scholarship, the 2013 Exponential Ensemble Young Composer premiere, and the 2014 Conductor's Apprenticeship with the New York Youth Symphony. Charlie is passionate about social justice, music, and making things for people he loves.  For more info about Charlie, visit  www.charliemartinmusic.com

For the final reading all students followed along with a projected score.

Danielle Mendez, 21


Danielle Mendez is a songwriter and pianist from Atlantic City, New Jersey. After realizing her ability to play by ear at age eight, piano lessons shortly followed. Throughout high school Danielle played with local orchestras, pit bands, and jazz groups. She developed her passion for songwriting at age thirteen and had some of her jazz compositions performed within the Atlantic City Casinos. During her college career at Fordham University, she continues to play within the tri-state area and was featured within issues of The New York City Jazz Record and Hot House. Most recently, Danielle is working at Warner Music Group while also working on various writing and production projects. She will be graduating in 2014 with a Bachelors in economics and music minor.

The final reading allowed the composers to adjust dynamic levels between the different voices.

Nathan Miranda, 19


Nathan Miranda, born and raised in Cary, NC, started piano lessons at the age of four. He showed a passion for jazz early on, picking up the alto saxophone in his first year of middle school and playing in various big bands and combos through high school. At the age of sixteen, he joined Duke University's Jazzforce as an alto player, headed by renowned bassist John Brown and composed of the most talented high school students in NC's Triangle region. At seventeen, Nathan joined UNC-G's Miles Davis Jazz Studies high school jazz program and UNC's Essentially Ellington high school jazz festival. Upon arriving at Fordham University, he joined the Fordham-based band Cableknit in his freshman year, which culminated in the release of Cableknit's first EP in May 2013. In January 2013, Nathan joined Jazz at Lincoln Center's small group sessions, under the instruction of guitarist Matt Buttermann and singer Michael Mwenso. Through this partnership with JALC. In January 2014, Nathan joined Rose Hill's BJC Jazz Quartet headed by Brenda Earle Stokes and has played shows around the city with the group.

On April 10, we performed all compositions for an audience made of students, teachers and a special jury. Here's a sample of "Japhy Climbs" by Elliott Sawicki who received an honorable mention.

Compositions by Nora Linde and Danielle Mendez were chosen to be performed during Exponential Ensemble's Season Finale on May 12, 2014.

















(From left to right)

Professor Daniel Ott, Danielle Mendez, Nora Linde and Pascal Archer.

Malcolm Morano, 20


Malcolm Morano is thrilled to be a part of Exponential Ensemble’s Young Composer’s Program for the second time!  Born and raised in Tenafly, NJ, Malcolm is a senior at Fordham University, double-majoring in Music and Philosophy.  From the ages of 10 to 17, he was a professional stage actor.  He played and composed progressive rock music for the electric guitar throughout high school.  Since college, he has been studying classical piano, which earned him a Fordham Music Lessons Scholarship last year.  He has also been the musical director of Fordham’s a cappella group, the F-Sharps.  In addition to composing, Malcolm also writes poetry, philosophy, political commentary, and art criticism.  


Check out Malcolm's writing at



...and listen to the piece he composed for last year’s program. 


Nora Linde shared with the audience her experience with the Young Composers and what inspired her to write Easy.

Harrison Nida, 22


Harrison Nida was classically trained in voice while singing for ten years with the Ragazzi Boys Choir, going on three domestic and two international tours. He also completed collegiate level theory. Harrison is now is a singer/songwriter, and has been working with Lynn Verlayne Studios on his debut EP to be released this March. For a more complete bio or to check out his music, visit www.harrisonnida.com

Listen to Easy by Nora Linde

Andrew Rammacca, 21


Andrew Rammacca is from Towson, Maryland, and is a senior and a music major.  He started taking lessons at Peabody Preparatory at age 5 on piano. In middle school, he picked up tenor sax for concert band. In high school, Andrew was part of the Jazz ensemble and Jazz combo for all 4 years playing piano. At age 16, he taught himself to sing, play guitar and bass, and write for drums. Shortly after, he started an alternative rock/pop punk band called A Crimson Atlantic. At the end of high school, Andrew stopped taking piano lessons and went to Fordham University. Sophomore year of college, he started a second pop rock band called StarFight. StarFight will be releasing a new album this summer. Andrew composes for both bands and plays shows regularly. He has toured the east coast, and played shows with a handful of national acts in the alternative rock/pop punk genre as well. He hopes to pursue music as a career. 

Danielle Mendez also shared her experience being part of the program and what inspired her to write Juan Rey.

Elliott Sawicki, 21


Elliott Sawicki was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, where he expressed interest in music at an early age. Elliott began by taking violin, trumpet, and piano lessons, however it wasn’t until picking up a guitar at the age of 12 that he discovered his true passion for music. From that point on, he took lessons in guitar and piano, focusing on jazz, blues, folk and rock and roll. Elliott is now in his third year at Fordham College at Lincoln Center where he is continuing his studies in music. He participates in Fordham’s small jazz ensembles in partnership with Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as the guitar ensemble under the instruction of guitarist Matthew Butterman. 


Listen to Juan Rey by Danielle Mendez

Charlie Situ, 22


Charlie is a classically trained pianist from San Francisco California. He spent most of his childhood improving on his piano technique on his own until he entered high school, where he expanded his musical knowledge by playing in ensembles in church and orchestra. He found joy in sharing and performing music with others. Now in college, he hopes to even strengthen his love for music by learning how to express himself more creatively through personal  compositional work.

Thank you Fordham University for hosting the 2014 Young Composers Program!

Christina Vilar, 18


Born in Valhalla, New York and graduate of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Christina is a Music major in her freshman year at Fordham University. She began playing the piano at the age of six, and then began playing the clarinet in 2005 when she joined her middle school band. Christina is a four year member of the Mississippi All-State Lions Band where she has marched in international Lions Clubs parades in Sydney, Australia, Seattle, WA, and Hamburg, Germany, taking home international championship titles in all three parades. She also had the pleasure of playing in the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra for two seasons alongside her teacher, Wilbur Moreland. Christina enjoys writing lyrics, creating remixes by combining classical and pop music, and attending a variety of concerts. 

2013 Young Composers Program

The Exponential Ensemble Young Composers Program is a brand new initiative between Fordham University and Exponential Ensemble.


Five students were involved in our 2013 pilot program: Charles MartinMalcolm MoranoHyun-Jin Jenny ParkTerence Petersen and John Venditti. They had to write a trio for Clarinet, Violin and Contrabass. Throughout the academic year, the students were supervised on a weekly basis by Dr. Daniel Ott (left) and periodically met musicians from Exponential Ensemble in order to hear their drafts, ask questions about the instruments and make appropriate modifications to their scores. 


On April 17, 2013, Exponential Ensemble performed all the student's works at Fordham University in front of a jury.  The Height of Spring by Charlie Martin was chosen to be performed during Exponential Ensemble's concert on April 18, 2013, at Benzaquen Hall (Dimenna Center).  


Congratulations Charlie!

Charlie Martin (left) describing his compositional process to the audience.

The Height of Spring by Charlie Martin (sample)

Adela Pena, Violin - Logan Coale, Bass - Pascal Archer, Clarinet

Meet the 2013 Young Composers

Born and raised outside of Atlanta, Georgia, Charlie Martin is pursuing Music and Philosophy majors at Fordham University, as well as additional studies through The Juilliard School's Evening Division.  Charlie has composed and arranged pieces for classroom and liturgical settings, in addition to vocal performance experiences with both the Fordham University Choir, the Young New Yorkers' Chorus, and a brief internship with the Corona Youth Music Project.  He is currently studying piano with Ms. Adelaide Roberts.  In addition to writing and performing music, Charlie is also active as a young philosopher, student leader, and social activist. His work has been featured in the Fordham Philosophy newsletter and The Fordham Observer, as well as other publications on campus. 

Malcolm Morano is a Junior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, double majoring in Philosophy and Music.  As a teenager, he was a professional actor in both plays and musical theater.  Since the age of 12, he has played electric guitar, and was the member of multiple rock bands in high school for which he wrote a great deal of music for electric guitar.  In college, he began studying classical piano, music theory and became more interested in the music of Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, and Bartok.  After years of hiatus, the Exponential Ensemble Young Composers Program is his first attempt at composing classical music.

Hyun-Jin Jenny Park was born in Seoul, Korea and raised in Portland, Oregon.  She started piano lessons at the age of five and, in 2010, she performed pieces by Beethoven, Bach, and Villa-Lobos at the Old Church in Portland, with her instructor Craig Jones.  She has also dabbled in instruments like the violin, viola, guitar, jang-gu, and pipe organ.  Jenny is currently working towards her double degree of Psychology and Music at Fordham University.  Swan is her first composition. 

Terence Petersen is a music major in his senior year at Fordham University. He divides his time between the University Choir, the Fordham Experimental Theatre group, and various independent student film and music projects. He has been composing now for a year, and plans to continue as far into the future as the practice carries him.

Electric guitarist John Venditti is a graduating senior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center. Writing and composing for electric guitar has always been one of his passions and upon graduation he will stive to continue learning to compose for orchestral instruments as well.  Through his composing he enjoys using the instruments to tell a story or express emotion, and perfecting using music as a form of communication.


2012 Young Composers Program

On June 12, 2012, we premiered "Working Together", a piece by young american composer Kimberly Osberg.  


Kimberly had initially contacted us to propose writing a piece for Exponential Ensemble. We gladly commisioned her to write a piece for piano, clarinet and percussion for our Season ONE finale.  


Working with Kimberly inspired us to create our Young Composers Program.