Cara Haxo

Cara Haxo's composition, "The Giving Tree," was awarded second prize at the 2012 statewide Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Student/Collegiate Composers Composition Contest in March.


Composition by Cara Haxo Wins Second Prize in OFMC Contest

Winning work by College of Wooster junior inspired by Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree”

April 24, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — Cara Haxo, a junior music composition major at The College of Wooster, was awarded second prize at the 2012 statewide Ohio Federation of Music Clubs Student/Collegiate Composers Composition Contest in March. Her award-winning entry, titled “The Giving Tree” after Shel Silverstein’s children’s book of the same name, is a nine-minute narrative in one movement for saxophone quartet.

Haxo, a resident of Haydenville, Mass., composed “The Giving Tree” for the acclaimed PRISM Quartet, which premiered the work last June at Symphony Space in New York City. The work was submitted to the competition in February and was one of three pieces by Ohio college composers to be awarded a prize in the contest. Haxo’s award marks the second consecutive year that the prize has been won by a College of Wooster student. Last year’s award went to current junior composition major Frederick Evans.

“The Giving Tree” is loosely inspired by Silverstein’s depiction of the relationship between a nurturing tree and a needy, dependent boy. Haxo’s quartet depicts incisive episodes in the lives of the two principal characters, beginning with the boy’s youth and concluding with old age. “Silverstein’s fable moved me deeply when I was young,” said Haxo. “My hope in composing the quartet was to evoke, in musical terms, the poignant timelessness of the narrative.”

Written comments by the judges noted that the work’s “melodic lines throughout have a great sense of shaping and forward motion” and praised its “sense of form and good motivic development.” They also cited the “textures that you achieve and the way you flow in and out of new materials.” and the work’s variety of “contrast, with both light, cheerful sections and darker dramatic sections.”

Jack Gallagher, the Olive Williams Kettering Professor of Music at Wooster and Haxo’s adviser, described the composition as “a moving, eloquently wrought work of disarming innocence and sincerity. Though Cara’s piece begins and ends serenely, the daunting virtuosity of the PRISM Quartet encouraged her to incorporate a wide range of expressive contrasts and technical demands that she traverses with assurance,” he said. “Seeing her distinctive achievement recognized and rewarded in this respected statewide forum bears testimony to her dedication and ability.”

Haxo studies composition with Gallagher and piano with Laura Silverman at Wooster. For her Independent Study (Wooster’s nationally acclaimed junior and senior capstone experience, also known as I.S.), Haxo recently completed works for cello and piano, for unaccompanied mixed chorus, and is completing a work for chamber orchestra. A three-year member of the Wooster Chorus under Lisa Wong, Haxo plans to continue composition studies through graduate school and eventually teach at the college level.