GM junior’s musical composition to be performed by VSO members

By Shawn Cunningham
©2019 Telegraph Publishing LLC

This is an especially busy week for Alex Beshay. Between this Wednesday — today —  and next Tuesday, the Green Mountain junior will participate in a four-day national conference choir in Columbus, Ohio, then work with members of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra as it prepares to perform one of his compositions at Music-Comp’s Opus 34 concert in Montpelier.

Alex at the keyboard in the Green Mountain High band room. Photo by Shawn Cunningham

Alex was one of 24 Vermont students whose work was selected to be performed by VSO musicians. He describes his composition Spicy Groove as “Latin jazz for classical instruments.”

Alex, who lives in Windham and attends GM through school choice, is a self-taught musician — mostly playing the piano — who says his music education started with listening to the radio in the car from about age 3.

Although he now plays the piano, he admits to being a  reluctant piano student. He didn’t particularly care for the lessons his mother had him take at age 6.  And it was the same for elementary school music lessons. He just felt like doing his own thing. So in sixth grade, his family bought a piano and he began exploring the instrument on his own.

His musical journey then went from classical to rock to blues before he turned to jazz with influences from John Coltrane to Keith Jarrett to Snarky Puppy.  

To listen to Alex playing, please click this link:
This video was taken from Alex’s Facebook page. Be sure to turn up the volume.

According to GM Principal Lauren Fierman, as part of the school’s “flexible pathways” program, Alex is taking an online music composition class through the Vermont Learning Cooperative. The course is being taught by Springfield High music teacher Jim Chlebak through the River Valley Tech Center.

But when Chlebak had to take personal time off during the semester, Alex was able to complete the course by working with Music-Comp, an organization that encourages young composers by pairing them with mentors to guide their creative process. It began as the Vermont MIDI Project and was renamed several years ago.

Alex can read music, but is not so fluent that he can sit down and play from the page or write music on the page. Musical software helps to get his music down on the page, but according to Chlebak, it also allows the composer to add elements that aren’t necessarily easy for an instrumentalist to understand.

That’s where flutist and composer Rebecca Larkin came in. As Alex’s mentor in the Music-Comp program, she gave him advice on how to make the sheet music work for the musicians who would be playing it.

“We didn’t work face to face,” said Alex. “I would write something and submit it and she would give me advice online.” Larkin is a transplant to Oregon from Vermont, who told The Telegraph that her role was also to help Alex with instrumentation and orchestration.

“He came at this with ambitious ideas but not much experience with classical instruments,” says Larkin. “My job was to help him get the ranges of the instruments to complement each other. He was ambitious and it really worked. It’s a lot of fun to play.”

Getting into the ‘Spicy Groove’

With Larkin’s help, Alex crafted his winning piece called Spicy Groove. It brings piano, bass, two violins, viola, cello, bassoon, clarinet, flute and oboe together in a Latin jazz style. Chlebak thinks that may have been the key to his success.

“Alex was up against some pretty stiff competition and he did it on the first try,” says Chlebak. “He always looks at something in a different way. That’s him – to do something that’s his own style.”

Next Tuesday, Alex will attend a day-long workshop, work with an ensemble of professional musicians who will play his composition and then be on hand for the concert.

‘Alex is particularly good at capturing the essence of an artistic style, and he is completely uninhibited about playing around with that core idea and, from it, creating something new.’

Jim Chlebak
Music teacher

“Alex is particularly good at capturing the essence of an artistic style, and he is completely uninhibited about playing around with that core idea and, from it, creating something new,” says Chlebak.

In addition to composing, Alex will be singing for the sixth year in the Organization of American Kodaly Educators conference, which includes three days of practice (where he says they work really hard) followed by performing in concerts on March 22 and 23. The choir will perform modern classical music by a diverse group of composers including Stravinsky and Kodaly.

When all the excitement is over, Alex will return to GM where he keeps musically busy with chorus, the school’s musical and the Jam Band, which will perform as part of Chester’s Summer Music Series on June 20 at the Chester Green.

The Opus 34 concert takes place at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 26 at the Vermont College of Fine Arts,  36 College St. in Montpelier.


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  1. Lisa Beshay says:

    I’m so proud of you, Alex. You never cease to amaze me. I know you will continue to accomplish anything you put your heart into. Love you.

    Love, Mom

  2. Max Boren says:

    Congratulations!Great article. Keep up the great work!
    Uncle Max

  3. Philip Perlah says:

    Good work Alex! Very impressive.