The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is a national competition open to high school students who have a passion for writing songs that could be part of a musical theater production. The winners worked one-on-one with New York City theater artists who traveled to their hometowns for an intensive two-day workshop produced by the American Theatre Wing. Their final song is then produced with professional Broadway artists in NYC.
Schwaner’s song At Sea takes place in the ancient world at the time of the Persian Wars. The Greek queen Artemisia has allied herself with the Persian Emperor Xerxes and is leading his forces and ships into battle against her own people. In the throes of combat, she proclaims, “Just keep going, target the enemy, keep rowing, don’t look at how they bleed. Not knowing, who is friend or foe, just go.”
Music and Lyrics: Sophia Schwaner
Music Director: Ben Rauhala
Mentor: Max Vernon
Performers: Ashley Loren (vocals), Adam J. Levy (vocals), Josh Tolle (vocals), Philip Payton (violin), Jocelin Pan (viola), Mairi Dorman-Phaneuf (cello), Alan Stevens Hewitt (bass), Jared Schonig (percussionist), Ben Rauhala (piano)
Producer: American Theatre Wing
Director: Ian Weiss
Editors: Ian Weiss, Kayla Williamson
DP: Matthew Cady, Hayden5
Camera: Jeff Springer, Hayden5
The Musical Theater Songwriting Challenge is hosted by the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with the American Theatre Wing. It also features collaborations with Disney Theatrical Productions, Concord Theatricals, and the National Music Publishers’ Association.