COCOA Music promotes collaboration over competition



As president of the Composers of Ohio Collaborative Organization for Acoustic Music, Moira Levant is using her experiences as a musician, composer and educator to promote hometown creativity. COCOA Music’s next concert is at Dayton Society of Artists on Sunday, Sept. 11. The program features chamber music pieces by Levant and fellow area composers Christian Berg, Gwen Brubaker, Franklin Cox, Aster Kanke, Adam Rook and Madeline Smith.

“I avoided composing for a while because you can’t make a living doing it,” Levant said. “Coming into it a little later or as an older composer, meaning anything over 30, it’s almost impossible to find ways of getting known. Almost all of the competitions were for 30 and under so a bunch of us were sitting around trying to figure out how to get pieces performed. We decided to just produce our own concerts.”

Levant understands the struggles. She started making up songs as a tween but didn’t truly embrace composing until earning a masters in music composition from Carnegie Mellon University in her 30s.

“We wanted to have a collaborative instead of a contest,” Levant said. “It’s about working together rather than competing. Hopefully everybody wins and nobody loses. We don’t usually start training composers until they’re 18 so we try to encourage young people to write earlier. We want to get composers of all ages in touch with musicians so they’re talking to each other.

Sunday’s free concert features Aurelian Oprea (violin), Lois Clond (violin), Sheridan Currie (viola) and Franklin Cox (cello). Other local musicians include Brent Eresman (clarinet), Candi Morris (oboe) and Jodi Boeddeker (contrabass flute).

“Some of the musicians are composers and some of them just like the opportunity to play new music,” Levant said. “For the most part, it will be a string quartet. It’s the same string quartet that did our concert last fall. They’ve been very supportive and I’m always so surprised how many other people think this is a really good idea. So many musicians, venues and composers have been incredibly supportive.”

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What: COCOA Music concert with new music from Christian Berg, Gwen Brubaker, Franklin Cox and others

Where: Dayton Society of Artists, 48 High St., Dayton

When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11

Cost: Free but donations are accepted

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