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Musically Gifted Alumni Collaborate With Nicolet High School Orchestra On Modern Concerto

Eliz Greene
Nicolet High School students in rehearsal for "The Little Bird" Concerto by Yotam Haber.

Current Nicolet High School students are getting a musical education from those who came before them.

This week, 2004 alumna violinist Hanna Hurwitz came back to the school to be part of the music department’s Artist in Residence Program. She’s mentoring the school orchestra in preparation for Thursday night's world premiere of a new modern concerto called The Little Bird.

It’s composed by alumnus Yotam Haber who's assistant professor of composition at the University of New Orleans. He graduated from Nicolet in 1994.

"When I was in high school, I didn't even know that composers still existed," he says. "I thought they were a breed that had died in the 19th century."

He was exposed to contemporary music through an art teacher at Nicolet and realized that living composers did exist and that composition was something he wanted to do.

"I think [music study and appreciation] enriches us, makes us better people no matter what field we go into," he says.

"It is no small thing that Nicolet commissioned this work, and shows a great, great commitment to contemporary music, something that we barely see in schools, even regular old music, we see so few programs," says Haber. "The fact that Nicolet is not only committed to music but to bringing contemporary music to light is incredible."

There is a world premiere of his composition The Little Bird by violinist Hanna Hurwitz and the Nicolet Orchestra at the high school Thursday at 7 p.m.

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Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018. She joined WUWM as a volunteer at Lake Effect in 2016, while she was a practicing criminal defense attorney.