Photos by Ailyn La Torre Photography

Wycliff Teen Enters National Composers Competition

Anna Snecinski recently added composer to her long list of musical accomplishments.

Anna began playing piano at the age of five with the encouragement of her parents. After years of taking lessons through Corbett Prep’s Community School of the Arts (CSA), her teacher had her switch to a teacher at USF to keep pace with her advanced skills.

Anna, who is a Freshman at Tampa Prep, has also been playing the flute since fifth grade, she spent a year playing the clarinet to challenge her musical chops, she tutors sixth-grade flute students and plays piano accompaniment for fellow musicians. Outside of school, Anna plays recitals twice a year. “My former piano teacher at Corbett had me do my first private solo concert which was nerve-wracking but fun,” she said. “I got to play a bunch of pieces with a wide range – Bruce Hornsby, Scott Joplin, Erik Satie, Claude Debussy, Bach, Beethoven, among others.”

Anna, who said she actually prefers to play classical music, plans to play another private concert this spring. She also recently played at Discovery Village, a retirement home in Westchase. “My grandfather used to live in the memory care unit before he passed away last summer. I wanted to be able to play for the residents, even though he isn’t there anymore,” she explained.

Anna took her first stab at composing three years ago. Inspired by her former piano teacher, who is also a professional composer, she wrote a piano piece…but didn’t tell anyone. A year ago, with her teacher’s encouragement, she composed a piece for the flute, piano and violin…but she wasn’t happy with it.

“In September, I had an idea come to mind that I knew I had to write down,” Anna said. “I wrote it down and I made it into a piece from there. It’s a wind quintet piece with flute, clarinet, trombone, trumpet and French horn. I call this one my first ‘real piece.’ I named it ‘Confused Tempest’ because it is supposed to resemble a storm that’s all over the place.”

Anna had come across the National Young Composers Challenge months earlier. At the end of September, with her 3.5-minute piece complete, she went back to review the contest guidelines, only to realize the deadline was days away. Hurricane Ian was approaching, and the post office was closed. In the end, she was able to get her piece mailed off in time – all 31 pages. “I didn’t know they chose finalists when I entered the competition. I thought they only chose one winner…but one morning in November, the website had a new link to the 2022 competition finalists. I was very surprised to see my name on the list because I had expected nothing to happen when I entered my piece,” Anna said. “Even though I didn’t end up winning, I’m still happy that I was a finalist. They said the finalists all should be recognized for their ‘compositional excellence.’ This made me feel pretty good.”

Her former piano teacher from Corbett Prep, who also teaches at Florida Southern University, invited Anna to present at an annual gathering he hosts for his college composition class. “At first, I was nervous that they wouldn’t want a freshman in high school there,” Anna said. “But it ended up going great. The students and I shared our pieces and talked about our experiences. The feedback I got on my piece was definitely helpful to know, and it’s something I’ll never forget.”

While Anna intends to continue to write music, piano is her first love. “Playing piano is something that lets me express myself in a way nothing else can,” Anna said. “I am currently learning the concerto ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ by George Gershwin, which I hope to someday play with an orchestra. I’ve found some contests with symphonies and orchestras where I can submit a recording of my playing a piano piece. If I win, I get to play with the orchestra. That’s my big goal for 2023.”

Anna has also applied for the prestigious summer camp through Interlochen Music Academy in Michigan, where she hopes to take their organ class and possibly a composition class. “It’s hard to get in to but I really hope I get in. Some amazing musicians have gone to that camp,” Anna explained.



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