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North Scott Student Wins Statewide Award for Musical Composition

Nicholas Propes

This month, a young composer in the Quad Cities has been recognized by the Iowa Composers Forum, all before starting high school.

Pacey Kane, a junior high school student, began writing his first big composition at home, by studying online. That composition became "The Forest of Sihir" and won him the forum's Student Composition Contest in his age group and $100.

Nicholas Propes is the seventh grade band director at North Scott.

Nicholas Propes
Nicholas Propes

"Technology has made composition more accessible to students," he said. "I don't know about making it easier for students, because there's still quite a bit of knowledge and understanding that it takes to write a piece."

A couple months into the school year, Pacey showed Propes what he was working on, and Propes suggested he submit it to the contest.

"I was fully expecting just a simple melody and maybe some basic chords underneath, and then he emailed me this piece and I was like, 'wow Pacey, you've really got something here!'"

To find a fitting title, Pacey plugged the word, "magic" into Google Translate and settled on "sihir," a Malay word for magic or witchcraft.

The eighth grader became much more interested in music when he played trombone in the seventh grade band.

"I like creating things, like just building or whatever, and music feels like that," Pacey said. "Where you can just step back and listen to what you've created or what you've played."

He dedicated his composition to his eighth grade band teacher, Ashley Knobloch, saying he probably wouldn't have been able to write it without her help. Pacey enjoyed playing his own work at the North Scott Band Showcase Concert in May.

"It was a pretty cool experience, when I first started making it, I wasn't expecting anyone to hear it besides me or maybe my parents, so it was cool to see everyone playing it."

And Pacey's parents did hear it. His stepdad and mom from Dubuque were in the audience.

"It was very emotional for us too, we're very proud of him," said Pacey's stepdad, Mike Bartelme. "Going from just starting band a couple years ago to winning awards and having the whole school actually play it was just amazing."

And when the band finished, they stood with the rest of the crowd to give Pacey and the band a standing ovation.

Rachel graduated from Michigan State University's J-School and has a background in broadcast and environmental journalism. Before WVIK, she worked for WKAR Public Media, Great Lakes Now, and more. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with her cat.