Draylen Mason had a bright musical future ahead of him. The 17-year-old earned acceptance into competitive music programs at UT and the University of North Texas. He was also principal double bassist in the Austin Youth Orchestra. That ambition comes in loud and clear on “Hell Fire,” the pulsing, urgent piece he composed for last year’s Golden Hornet Young Composer Concert.
Mason, who was killed March 12 when a package exploded at his family’s East Austin home, made an immediate impression on Golden Hornet co-founder Graham Reynolds.
“I get to know a lot of the student composers,” says Reynolds. “You can tell some are doing music to broaden themselves, but then will likely move on to other things. Others are future lifetime musicians, composers, players. Draylen was definitely in that second group.
“You could tell right away that music was his passion and was going to be part of his life forever. He was super-talented and had what a young musician needs to build a career. As a musician, that’s a huge loss.”
Students participating in the Young Composer Concert primarily come from classes at the Austin Chamber Music Center and area school music programs. They’re paired with professional mentors for guidance on their compositions. Students also co-produce the show itself. Local ensemble Tetractys performs the compositions.
“Not only is it great to see these students doing this inspiring work, but it’s always at a much higher level than you’d expect,” admits Reynolds.
This year’s class of composers ages 9 to 18 is led by 16-year-old Helen Lundy and includes Fiona Gehrke, Sel Hoxie, Ayden Machajewski, Reese Niemitz, Cassidy Peña, Melody Richard, Katelyn Rodrigues, and Ian Shaw. They’ll honor Mason’s musical legacy by dedicating Sunday’s concert to him. “Hell Fire” will be the final piece performed.
Sun., March 25, 2pm