Sophia Schwaner Workshop

In the brightly lit auditorium of Stuart Hall School in Staunton, Virginia, sophomore Sophia Schwaner worked closely with composer/lyricist Max Vernon (dark hair and beard) and music director Benjamin Rauhala to hone and orchestrate Schwaner’s winning song, “At Sea.” The song 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.

Speaking of Sophia’s song, Vernon said, “What I love about it is that it’s so musically beautiful. It’s gorgeous, it’s eerie, it’s spooky, but it’s introspective.” Rauhala added, “It’s a song about a powerful, strong, independent woman . . . and there’s so much drama in the chords, and it’s not afraid to be dramatic in a theatrical sense. I love that it’s sweeping and epic.”

Photos by Christy McKee and video by Victoria Hutter.

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