"I carry staff paper, pencils and an empty insect container with me wherever I go, in case a musical idea pops in my head, or I spot an intriguing arthropod. Musical ideas, like insects, can be found anywhere.
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13 yr. old Composer, Pianist, Cellist
Winston F. Schneider was bound to be a composer from the very beginning. As a young child, he seemed connected to music and would become emotional and weep whenever the choir would sing or the organ would play in church. He began piano lessons at a young age, or as he says, "twenty-nine days after my fifth birthday." Soon after, he began playing his pieces in all different keys and styles. Sometimes he'd play one key in one hand, and a different key in the other hand with his eyes closed. With a rare ability of absolute pitch, Schneider soon began writing down musical ideas on staff paper as they would "pop in his head," making the leap from his first piano lesson to creating music of his own seemingly overnight. The language of music came as naturally to him as colors and shapes.
Fast forward a few years, and Schneider's received considerable acclaim for his musical works, and is the recipient of over twenty-three composition awards, including national and international awards. At eight, he began university level music theory. At 10, he was one of six pre-college composers selected internationally to write a new work for the MATA Jr. Festival, and was also NAfME's Composition Competition national first place winner. At 12, he was the youngest composer ever to be accepted in the Curtis Institute of Music's summer program. Schneider's currently a member of the New York Youth Symphony Composing Program and Conducting Program (2020-21). He was selected for “ComposerLab Flute: Young American Composers” for Dolce Suono Ensemble for composers under 30. He's received commissions from notable organizations, including the Omaha Symphony, the Omaha Conservatory of Music and KVNO classical music station.
Perhaps most recent and notable is, Schneider received one of the top two types of awards, an “Honorable Mention” in the competitive and prestigious ASCAP 2021 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, a competition for composers up to 30 years of age. There are typically 400 - 500 applicants each year. The ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams says, "The young composers recognized by The ASCAP Foundation are taking concert music in new and exciting directions. They are the future of the genre and it gives us great pleasure to support and empower them to further their talents."
From solo works to chamber music, from atonal pieces to grand symphonies, Schneider's pieces have been played by the Omaha Symphony, New York Youth Symphony, Face the Music (NYC’s premiere youth ensemble), Ars Futura (Cleveland based contemporary music ensemble), Orchestra Omaha, numerous string quartets and ensembles, as well as renowned musicians including Mimi Stillman, Jessica Meyer, Benjamin Fingland, Philip Sheegog and Hanna Landrum. He studies at the Omaha Conservatory of Music and is the current two-time MTNA Junior State Piano Performance winner (2019-20, 2020-21) and is the Associate Principal Cello with the Omaha Area Youth Symphony.
ARTSCANVAS.ORG (PBS NEWSHOUR)
"Bugs and books become inspiration for this 11-year-old composer." Story about Schneider.
"There's nothing like playing a Beethoven Sonata on my black upright piano in my room while my tuxedo cat Meowth curls up underneath the bench in an Amazon Prime cardboard box and falls asleep. There's nothing like picking up a pencil and writing down musical ideas on manuscript paper late at night when everyone else is asleep.
"My passions inform my music. I love to catch, study, and release insects, arachnids, and other arthropods in the summer. I've caught, studied, and released over 100 species. I collect elements on the periodic table, and have 58 elements currently constituting my collection. I've composed many pieces about nature, insects, the periodic elements and books. I carry staff paper and pencils (and an empty insect container in the summer) with me wherever I go, in case a musical idea pops in my head or I spot an intriguing arthropod. I also love to draw. When we cleaned out our silver Honda, we found 34 pencils."