Composers & Mentors

Key in the online discussion process of the Music-COMP are the professional composers who are hired to review student work in a password protected website. These mentors are paid a stipend to comment on student work in progress and offer suggestions.

Some of the artists are available as artists-in-residence. They also present workshops, and prepare resource materials for teachers and students. Other composer mentors combine full or part time jobs teaching and mentoring on the site.

Current Mentors

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Erik Nielsen  (Senior Mentor)
Erik Nielsen's compositional catalog includes works for chorus, orchestra, wind ensemble, solo instruments, chamber music of many configurations, works for dance, film and electronic music. His works have been performed in Canada, Europe, Asia, South America and Australia as well as many locations in the United States and have been performed by ensembles including A Far Cry, the Amabile, Chiara, Emerson and Ying String Quartets; the National Symphony Orchestra;  the Killington and Manchester Chamber Players; Bread and Puppet Theater; the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble; Vermont Opera Theater, Vermont Symphony; Vermont Youth Orchestra and Village and Northern Harmony. He has won awards from ASCAP, the Vermont Arts Council, and in 1991 was chosen Vermont Composer of the Year by the Vermont Music Teachers Association.  Recent commissions include Glimpses of Azure, commissioned by the Boston-based string orchestra, A Far Cry; Voices in the Wind, a set of duets for flute and viola; The Crane Maiden for chamber ensemble, narrator and three actors; two song cycles, Trajectory of Flight for mezzo-soprano and strings and The Falling of Trees for baritone and piano quartet; his Quartet for Strings #2; and Cinque Amici, a work for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano.  In 2002 he received the National Symphony Orchestra's composition prize for Vermont.  The resulting commissioned work, Mr. Nielsen's Quintet for Clarinet and Strings,  was premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. on March 20, 2004.   In October, 2000, his opera, A FLEETING ANIMAL: An Opera from Judevine, a collaboration with poet/playwright David Budbill, was premiered to great acclaim in several locations in Vermont.   He was a 1994-95 recipient of a Vermont Council on the Arts Fellowship in music. In 1995 his piano quintet was performed at Carnegie Hall by the Manchester Chamber Players. He has been a recipient of ASCAP Standard Panel (now ASCAP PLUS) awards annually since 1993.   Mr. Nielsen lives in Brookfield, Vermont and teaches music theory and composition with the Vermont Youth Orchestra, the Monteverdi School and privately. Erik is a member of ASCAP. More info.

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Will D. Charron 
Will Charron grew up in Eastford, CT where he developed his passion for music by teaching himself to play percussion and guitar throughout middle and high school. With several years of performance and composition experience under his belt, Charron moved to Burlington, VT to attend UVM, where he received a degree in Music Education with a concentration in Music Theory & Composition in 2013. That year, he was also the recipient of the Lyman S. Rowell Academic Achievement Award in Music. Throughout his college career, he primarily studied percussion with Dr. D. Thomas Toner but also drum set with Jeff Salisbury and electric bass with John Rivers. In addition, he served as Co-President (alongside Andy Gagnon) of UVM's chapter of NAfME Collegiate (National Association for Music Education) for two years. As part of his studies at UVM, Charron was a composer-mentor with Music-COMP for several semesters and has since returned as a performer and composer-mentor in 2015. Currently residing in Warren, VT, he splits his time between teaching private music lessons, working at Sugarbush Resort, and composing from his mountainside condo.


Mike Close 
Michael Close is a composer, cellist, and teacher living in Worcester, VT.   He has been a composer-mentor with Music-COMP since 2004. He graduated from Bennington College in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in music composition and a master of arts in education. He teaches cello and chamber music classes at the Monteverdi Music School in Montpelier. He is also the music teacher at Moretown Elementary School and Doty Memorial School. Michael plays cello with a wide variety of orchestral and chamber groups around Vermont. He has been the section leader of and a soloist with the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra. He is a prolific composer and some of his most recent works have been performed by the Montpelier Chamber Orchestra, The Birmingham Bloomfield Symphony, The Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, Chamber Music at the Scarab Club of Detroit, the Eleva Chamber Players, and the Vermont Choral Union.

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Lee Heuermann  
Lee Heuermann, composer/singer-actor, pianist and flutist is a freelance musician and teacher living in Berkeley, CA.  She was formerly on the faculty of the School of Performing Arts (SOPA) at Virginia Tech. She was on the faculty of the University of Montana's College of Visual and Performing Arts and Wilderness and Civilization Program, where she taught a variety of classes including music composition, and developed the course "Sound in the Natural World". Most recently, Heuermann performed her work Being Peace, and she was a featured speaker with her talk "Being Peace and the Power of the Voice", at the 3rd Annual International Conference of Young Buddhists and Scientists in Hong Kong (2013). Her composition Ridge of Blue Longing, (commissioned by the Montana Music Teacher's Association) was the 2011 recipient of the Judith Lang Zaimant Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music (IAWM).  Heuermann has frequently collaborated with Amy Ragsdale's Headwater's Dance Company. In 2012, Lee worked with poet Prageeta Sharma, creating the song cycle A Lesson In American History, based on the life of suffragist, Alice Paul. As a singer, Lee specializes in contemporary music and experimental jazz and is an improvisational pianist. Heuermann is founder of the Floating Feather Band, an international composer/performer collective, with musicians from Brisbane, Australia, Montana, and California.  Additionally, she has received a National Endowment for the Arts/Interarts Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship for her performance art piece Wearing Water/Eating Cement - Icons To Kiss, with visual artist, Elizabeth Lide.  Heuermann was Artist in Residence in composition at the Banff Center for the Arts, and in 2010, performed in Banff at "Resonations", a concert for peace sponsored by the United Nations.  Lee's composition teachers have included Daria Semegen, Sheila Silver, Daniel Weymouth, Jacob Druckman, Betsy Jolas, Lukas Foss, Marlos Nobre, and Malcolm Peyton. Heuermann has a Ph. D. in Composition from Stony Brook University, a MM degree from the Yale School of Music, and a BA from the New England Conservatory of Music, and was a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University.  To learn more about Lee's works visit her website at


Jennifer Jolley
Urban environments, city sounds, and nostalgia influence Jennifer Jolley's compositions and sound installations. She is the co-founder of North American New Opera Workshop (NANOWorks Opera), a new chamber opera company devoted to developing and staging short contemporary operas by emerging North American composers, and also authors Why Compose When You Can Blog?, a web log about contemporary composing. Her music has been performed in the United States, Canada, and Europe by various ensembles including the Bard Orchestra, Xavier University Symphonic Winds, concert:nova, Hartford Opera Theater, New Fangled Opera, Ottawa New Music Creators, and the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble. Originally from Los Angeles, Jennifer is an Assistant Professor of Music (Composition and Theory) at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned both her D.M.A. and M.M. at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music studying under Douglas Knehans, Joel Hoffman, and Michael Fiday, and her B.M. at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music studying under Stephen Hartke and Frank Ticheli. She teaches music composition, theory, orchestration, and electronic music at OWU.

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Matt LaRocca
Matt LaRocca is a composer, performer and educator based in Burlington VT, where he directs the South Burlington Community Choir.  A graduate of Middlebury College, Matt holds a M.M. from Carnegie Mellon University and a D.M.A. from Boston University.  He is a member of ASCAP, and his work has been commissioned by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, the New Jersey Youth Symphony and the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra.   Equally at home in acoustic and electronic music, Matt has taught digital music and managed several recording studios and a music technology lab at Montana State University.  In addition to composing, he is also an avid performer on both the guitar and viola, with projects ranging from avant-garde to traditional classical music to an 80’s cover band.

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Jake Lester 
Jake Lester, originally from Marshfield, MA, studied Music Education with a concentration in composition at The University of Vermont. He has composed in a variety of different styles such as classical, electronic and film score, with programs like Logic Pro, Sibelius and Garageband. Jake studied clarinet with Steve Klimowski, drums with Jeff Salisbury and voice with Sarah Cullins. He studied composition with David Feurzeig and TL Read, as well as jazz arranging with Patricia Julien. While studying at UVM, Jake performed with the Concert Band, Vermont Wind Ensemble, Concert Choir, Latin Jazz Band, Clarinet Quartet, and Symphony Orchestra. In May 2013, Jake travelled to China along with Music-COMP veteran Andy Gagnon and two other music majors. Here, he and his colleagues engaged in a collaborative musical experience with students in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, co-creating a piece titled "Confluence". During the same concert, Jake premiered a flute duet titled "Echoes of Sunset". In April 2014, Jake was part of a concert for UVM president E. Thomas Sullivan, where he performed his piece "Eastern Themes", a piece inspired by and adapted from the music of East Asia. During this time, he was also awarded the Amanda Cup Award for Excellence In Vocal or Instrumental Composition by the UVM Music Department. In April 2015, he was awarded the "Thomas L. Read Award in Composition" from UVM, coincidentally right before the Opus 30 concert! Jake was a mentor with Music-COMP for three semesters during his studies, and is grateful to now be a full-time mentor. He currently works full-time as a paraeducator for the Winooski School District. Outside of music and teaching, he enjoys running, geeking out over video games and movies, and spending time with the people who matter.

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Matt Podd 
Matt Podd is a pianist, composer, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. He holds degrees from The Eastman School of Music and Ithaca College. As a pianist Matt specializes in jazz, gospel, pop, musical theatre, and choral accompaniment. He has appeared on stage with some of New York City’s finest musicians at Town Hall, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Symphony Space, the 92nd Street Y, Rockwood Music Hall, and Shapeshifter Lab. As a composer, arranger, and orchestrator Matt Podd has a wide range of experience, from children's choir to jazz ensemble, chamber groups to full orchestra. He has composed and arranged music for the Young People's Chorus of New York City, the New York Pops Orchestra, Jake Shimabukuro, Stephen Kellogg, Milton Delug, and countless other artists, choirs, and ensembles. Matt is a member of ASCAP. Matt works regularly with his twin brother Adam on a variety of composing, arranging, and recording projects. They have worked as co-composers on several new musicals including Nightfall On Miranga Island, featured in NYC Fringe Festival 2012 Encore Series.

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Travis Ramsey 
Travis M. Ramsey earned his bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Southern Maine and his master’s degree from Boston University in 2011.  Travis splits his time between teaching band, chorus, and general music at the Weathersfield School in Ascutney, and composing.  His works as a professional composer have been commissioned by choruses, bands, and orchestras throughout New England including the Wellesley (MA) Symphony Orchestra and the Choral Art Society (Portland, ME).  This spring three of his vocal works will be premiered: Be With Me Still and Peace I Leave You by Ensemble Zephyrus (Sharon, VT), and Be Not Afeard by the University of Southern Maine Chorale (Gorham, ME).  His work composing music for the USM Theatre department's 2002 production of The Good Woman of Setzuan earned an award for Best Student Sound Design. His composition Be With Me Still was a finalist in the Meistersingers 2010 choral composition contest. Travis lives with his wife, Gisela and daughter, Anna in Etna, New Hampshire.


Zach Sheets 
Zach Sheets enjoys a diverse musical life as a composer, chamber musician, and orchestral flutist. As a composer, Zach's works have been performed by such groups as the Ensemble InterContemporain, the Talea Ensemble, the Callithumpian Consort, the Juventas New Music Ensemble, the Brattle Street Chamber Players, cellist Séverine Ballon, the Vermont Youth Orchestra, the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, and many others. He was featured in a performance of his own solo flute work, that colors the stone, at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA, and recently completed a new work as part of the 2015 ManiFeste Academy at IRCAM in Paris. Zach currently serves as principal flutist, Lyndon Paul Lorusso Chair, of the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, and as flutist for the [Switch~ Ensemble]. He has furthered performed with the New World Symphony, the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, the Boston Ballet, the Albany Symphony, the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Slee Sinfonietta, the Encounters Ensemble, and Ensemble Signal. Zach is a member of ASCAP. To read and hear more, please visit:

Recent Mentors


Alexandra Fol  
The music of Alexandra Fol has been performed by ensembles such as the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, the Sofia Symphony Orchestra, the McGill symphony, the orkest de ereprijs, the Orchestre de la Francophonie, the CYE ensemble and the New York Miniaturist Ensemble among others. Finalist for the 2006 Gaudeamus Prize, and winner of the 2007 Leonard Bernstein Tanglewood fellowship, she completed a Doctor of Music degree at McGill University in 2011. Fol works as composer, organist and conductor in Montréal, Canada and serves as Secretary General at the International Research and Information Centre Thracica. For more information, please visit Alexandra is a member of SOCAN.


Dominique Gagne
Dominique Gagne is a freelance composer, jazz flutist and pianist. She has a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Oberlin Conservatory and a Masters in Jazz Composition and Arranging from UMass Amherst. Having recently relocated to Brooklyn, NY, she is teaching early childhood music and also playing and composing for the newly-formed Brazilian/Roots ensemble called the Brooklyn Fife Revival. She is currently working on an original piece for the National Flute Association's Jazz Flute Big Band, to be premiered this summer at their conference in NYC. Dominique is a member of ASCAP.


Andrew Gagnon  
Andy Gagnon has been composing since the age of three when he penned his first piece, Do It Yourself, a charming work in ABCA form for solo voice and Fisher Price keyboard-glockenspiel about the hardships and eventual rewards of cleaning one's room. During his high school years, Mr. Gagnon worked with the Music-COMP as a student composer, refining his compositional techniques. Mr. Gagnon now studies music education at the University of Vermont where, along with good friend and colleague Will Charron, he is humbly assisting in the development of a new composition concentration within his major.


Molly Joyce  
Molly Joyce is an eighteen year old composer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She currently attends The Juilliard School in New York City, studying with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse and privately with Missy Mazzoli. She has studied at many conservatories, most recently the Royal College of Music in London with Timothy Salter and La Schola Cantorum in Paris with Michel Merlet. She is also the recipient of many awards including a 2010 ASCAP Morton Gould Award and was also named a finalist in the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts 2010 Young Arts Competition. Read more about Molly on her Molly is a member of ASCAP.


Dillon Kondor  
Dillon Kondor is a composer, conductor, electric guitarist and bassist living in New York City. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree in composition at Manhattan School of Music, where he studies with Reiko Fueting. Recent projects include "Sleep Spindles" for solo trombone and "Snow" for percussion quartet. He is also in the process of recording an R&B album with his band The Proles. To hear his music and learn about upcoming events, go to


Robinson McClellan
Robinson McClellan is a composer, teacher, and scholar. His music has been commissioned and played by the Albany, Ft. Worth, and Knox-Galesburg Symphonies, Amsterdam's Gaudeamus Competition, and others. He has done residencies at MacDowell and Yaddo, and his choral music is published in the NCCO Choral Music Series and, Music by Heart, an Episcopal hymnal. Robin has taught composition at Hunter College and is spearheading ComposerCraft, a composition intensive for young composers at the Special Music School in NYC. He is a composer mentor for YCIW at the Little Red Schoolhouse (also in NYC), and he is on the music faculty at Rutgers University and Wagner, Manhattan, and St. Francis Colleges, and the Lucy Moses School. He earned his doctorate in composition (DMA) at the Yale School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. For more info visit: Robinson is a member of ASCAP.


Dr. Matthew McConnell  
Dr. Matthew McConnell is a composer, organist, and piano instructor who holds a B. A. degree in Music from Bennington College, a M.M. degree in Musical Composition from the New England Conservatory of Music, as well as the Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree from the same institution. His principal teachers have included Stephen Siegel, Allen Shaw, John Heiss and Hollywood film orchestrator Erik Lundborg. McConnell received the Aaron Copland scholarship to attend The Conducting Institute's Composer/Conductor Program at Bard College, and is a member of ASCAP. McConnell co-founded The Toyland Band, a Boston-based award-winning instrumental ensemble that specializes in performing arrangements of classical and popular music for children on no less than 28 diverse toy instruments.


Patricia Morehead  
Composer, oboist and professor Patricia Morehead holds a B. M in oboe from the New England Conservatory of Music and a PhD in composition from the University of Chicago, the city which she also calls home. She is leader of the Composers Forum at the Merit School of Music, where she teaches composition and theory. She has served as Artistic Director of CUBE Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Chicago for 20 seasons and continues as founder and an ensemble member. Her many compositions, commissions and grants have led to an extensive roster of international world premieres and audio recordings. Dr. Morehead has performed extensively in Brazil, Canada, China, Europe and the United States. She has also served in senior board positions with New Music Chicago, New European Music Overseas, American Women Composers, Midwest and the International Alliance of Women in Music. Patricia is a member of ASCAP.



David Ludwig  
The music of David Ludwig has been heard worldwide and has been performed in some of the most prestigious venues. He is the resident composer of the Vermont Symphony, along with several other active residencies, and has gathered many awards. Ludwig joined the faculty of The Curtis Institute in 2002. Visit David Ludwig's website to learn more.


Rob Paterson  
The son of two visual artists, Robert Paterson's music is often inspired by nature, visual art, machines and American icons, and has been described in the press as "one of the major contenders in American music." Paterson has received performances in the United States and abroad by many outstanding ensembles, including the Louisville Orchestra, Russian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire , New York New Music Ensemble, Da Capo Chamber Players, California EAR Unit, Ensemble Aleph and at the June in Buffalo Festival. His many awards include a Copland Award, the Brian Israel Prize, the Louisville Orchestra Composition Competition and twice winning the ASCAP Young Composer's Award. Read more about Rob on his website: Robert is a member of ASCAP.