Go Compose North America Summer Festival 2021: Sonya Knussen

I first met today’s guest writer, Sonya Knussen, at the Barbican Centre when she was about 13; she was backstage with her father, the composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, whom I went to meet after he had conducted the London Sinfonietta in a concert featuring his music. At the time, I was recording and performing his wonderful piece, Sonya’s Lullaby Op. 16, which, of course, was written for Sonya, chronicling her perpetual insomnia as a baby!

Fast forward many years, and now Sonya, who is based in Maryland in the USA, is the director of the Go Compose Summer School Festival 2021, a venture intended for young people to expand and develop their knowledge and grasp of composition. With an impressive faculty, the Summer School Festival takes place during August this year and is online enabling children to attend from around the world.  In this post, Sonya describes what’s on the menu at this year’s festival…


I’m so happy to be curating and directing the Go Compose North America Summer Festival 2021.

Go Compose North America offers workshops for children aged between 11-18. Uniquely, we have professional composers, instrumentalists and singers working with participants every step of the way. This means that kids get to hear their music as they compose it and get mentoring for experienced creators whenever they need it. Plus, there is no requirement to be at a certain level in your musical journey. We help kids find their own way to create using traditional notation, graphics, narrative and any other means that makes it possible for ANYONE to compose their own music. All of our participants have composed AMAZING works and many of them are available to listen to on our website: www.keepcomposing.com


This summer we’re launching our first ever Summer Festival and with that comes a lot of fun! We have a great line up of teaching artists and guest artists. We are having an interview series called “When I was your age…” where established composers and people who work in the new music world talk about how they started and what they were doing when they were the age of our participants. We’re also doing some “How to” sessions. On each of the three Saturdays of the festival, there will be a short recital from Will “Friendship” Lombardelli, Katherine Dowling and JoAnn Lamolino. We are also being featured in the New Music Gathering on August 15.


MOST IMPORTANTLY, we are having a MINI CAMP for children aged between 8-10 on the Mornings of August 2nd-6th and we are offering 3 WEEKS OF WORKSHOPS to those aged 11-18. Sign-ups are available for 2 days, 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks or all three weeks. All of our workshops are online and so we look forward to welcoming people from all over the world. Space are still available, so sign up and join the fun!

Programme Details:

August 2nd-4th: 3 Compositions in 3 days (3 days)

August 5th-6th: Voices – unaccompanied voices in various formats (2 days)

August 9th-10th: Haegeum – Korean Stringed Instrument (2 days)

August 11th-13th: Choose your own adventure – a conductor, instrumentalists, resources and technology available for us in our homes to create imaginative projects. (3 days)

August 16th-18th: Electric Guitar, Percussive Cello, Beatbox (2 1/2 days)

August 18th-20th: Words! Words! Words! – Voice and Piano (2 1/2 days)

Read more about the Go Compose North America Festival, here.

Sonya Knussen


Melanie Spanswick has written and published a wide range of courses, anthologies, examination syllabuses, and text books, including Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). This best-selling graded, progressive piano course contains a large selection of repertoire featuring a huge array of styles and genres, with copious practice tips and suggestions for every piece.

For more information, please visit the publications page, here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.