Newly-Released Album Features Stuart Hall Sophomore's Composition

(L to r) Benjamin Rauhala, Sophia Schwaner and Max Vernon

At Stuart Hall, we speak frequently of our desire to encourage young people to be creative and truly “think outside the box.” We are not trying to graduate students who all look and think the same way. Rather, we are striving to graduate students who are innovative and able to communicate ideas in ways that are unique and appealing. This mission to foster creative thinking is evinced by the amazing work Sophia S. ‘22, is accomplishing in the world of musical theatre. 

Last year, while studying the Greco-Persian Wars in Tim Layne’s Ancient World History class, Sophia shared her idea of creating a musical based on the subject matter. Mr. Layne thought it was an interesting concept, suggesting she speak with STU Theatre Director, Jeremy West. As Sophia worked to hone the piece, Mr. West did research that resulted in his discovery of the 2019 Musical Theatre Songwriting Challenge. The Challenge, which is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Theatre Wing, seeks to cultivate the next generation of musical theater songwriters. Mr. West encouraged Sophia to move forward with her musical using the submission as a goal. Sophia worked with Pete Echols, STU Music Director, for feedback on her compositions. 

After many months of hard work, Sophia learned in July that she was one of seven regional winners of the challenge. Each finalist had the amazing opportunity to work one-on-one with New York City theatre professionals “to hone and orchestrate their song into (a) Broadway-ready composition.” Last week, Sophia’s winning piece, At Sea, was released on a compilation album featuring each finalist’s song. To hear At Sea, performed by Broadway singer and actress, Ashley Loren, and to learn more about the Musical Theatre Songwriting Challenge, click here for the recent WMRA story.

Congratulations, Sophia! We are so very proud of you! And a huge thank you to our amazing faculty members, Mr. Layne, Mr. West, and Mr. Echols, who mentored and encouraged her throughout the process!