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Monday July 6th 2020

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Phillips Student Erika Espey-Sundt Honored for Songwriting

by Kevyn Burger

Erika Espey-Sundt, a senior studying music at the Perpich Center for Arts Education, is winner of Zeitgeist’s 16th annual Eric Stokes Song Contest in the youth category. Her piece, “Gust of Wind,” reflects the different stages of an adventure, from whimsy and playfulness to mystery and intensity.

The daughter of Kristen Sundt Espey-Sundt began composing just three months ago, under the direction of local composer and Arts High School music teacher Janika Vandervelde. Erika studies viola, violin and also enjoys singing.

“Composing this song started as a class assignment, but I spent a lot of time out of class working on it as well,” Erika said. “I can’t wait to see how they will arrange it and hear it performed. This is amazing.”

The Eric Stokes Song Contest is sponsored by new music group Zeitgeist in memory of late composer Eric Stokes; designed to encourage and celebrate amateur composers throughout the Twin Cities.

The winning composers have the opportunity to participate in Zeitgeist’s annual Playing it Close to Home concerts in February; in addition, she also receives a $100 prize and a one-year membership to the American Composers Forum.

“This was the strongest group of youth composers we’ve seen in the 16 years we’ve held this contest. Our judges were uniformly impressed with Erika’s mature and inventive composition, and we can’t wait to play it during our upcoming Playing it Close to Home concerts,” said Heather Barringer, artistic co-director and percussionist for Zeitgeist.

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