From Music into Words



~ Winners Announced in Writer’s Ear Creative Writing Contest ~

Staunton, Virginia (March 22, 2016) — Hundreds of students have been busy in the past few months, listening intently to five different musical works, and letting their imaginations run wild. It’s all part of the Writer’s Ear Project, a contest sponsored by the Staunton Music Festival to educate and inspire school-age children through great music. The music featured this year ranges from a solo violin work by Baroque master J. S. Bach to a vigorous percussion duet by JMU composer and performer Eric Guinivan.

The contest was open to all children (ages 8-14) living in Staunton, Waynesboro, or Augusta County. Students were invited to pick one of five musical pieces specifically recorded for them. Each student then created a short story or poem expressing scenes, emotions or images inspired by the music. The submissions were judged on originality, style, and most importantly, connection to the music.

“Some of the submissions this year were truly exceptional,” says Jason Stell, Executive Director of the Staunton Music Festival. “We were very excited to see that many students were able to translate their images so clearly into words. Their ability to respond in a story or poem to quite subtle elements of music—the form, changing instruments, quick changes in harmony or mood—was really quite mature. We have some very perceptive listeners here—and clever, creative writers.”

Winners will read their compositions aloud, along with a live performance of the musical works. The performers include violinist Fiona Hughes, who will perform Bach; pianist Megan Rainey, who will perform Ravel; and percussionists Eric Guinivan and Michael Overman, who will perform Guinivan’s Twelve. Hughes and Rainey will pair up to perform a Polish dance by Wieniawski, and the entire ensemble gets together to present an Eastern-inspired meditation called Gending by Lou Harrison.

The public is invited to attend the free concert, awards ceremony, and reception to be held Sunday April 3rd at 3:00pm at Trinity Episcopal Church (214 West Beverley St., Staunton). The winning students receive gift cards to Books-a-Million donated jointly by First Bank & Trust and Books-a-Million.  The prize winners are:

First Prize Winners

  • Reagan Anderson, Ware Elementary, grade 5
  • Lillian Brown, Grace Christian, grade 7
  • Haley Campbell, Wilson Middle, grade 7
  • Annika Alderfer Fisher, homeschool, grade 8
  • Mary Quinn Franklin, Grace Christian, grade 4
  • Katie Greenmun, Grace Christian, grade 5
  • Jonathan Heishman, Bessie Weller Elementary, grade 5
  • Skylar Lanier, Wilson Middle, grade 8
  • Lily McClung, Wilson Middle, grade 7
  • Aurora Schwaner, McSwain Elementary, grade 5

Second Prize Winners

  • Tabitha McClung, Wilson Middle, grade 8
  • Trinity Noelette, McSwain Elementary, grade 5
  • Autumn Ratigan, Grace Christian, grade 8
  • Ky’Nasia White, Bessie Weller Elementary, grade 5

Honorable Mentions

  • Aubrey Greenmun, Grace Christian, grade 3
  • Corwin Harman, Ware Elementary, grade 3
  • Richard “Jamie” King, Bessie Weller Elementary, grade 5
  • Jackson Sherman, Kate Collins Middle, grade 6


The Staunton Music Festival aims to engage and enrich audiences with a diverse selection of historic and contemporary chamber music, performed by an exceptional ensemble of international and American performers. Staunton Music Festival recently made all of its nearly 30 concerts entirely free to youth, aged 18 and under.