Original Composition by Junior Jordan Millar Performed at Winter Concert


Sadie Schoenberger, Arts Editor

At this year’s Winter Concert, the Upper School String Ensemble performed “Iridessa,” an original piece composed by Poly Prep Junior Jordan Millar. This was the first time Millar’s work was featured on campus, and the first time the US String ensemble performed a commissioned piece. 

When she’s not on campus, Millar is an accomplished composer whose work has been performed by orchestras and ensembles across the city, including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Her award-winning compositions have been widely well-received since she was young. Five years ago, her piece  “Boogie Down Uptown” received accolades from the  New York Times in a 2018 article titled “Meet the 11-Year-Old Girls Whose Music Wowed the Philharmonic.”

“As a department, we have been tracking Jordan’s success in the composition world and looking for ways to connect her work outside Poly to the school community,” said Daniel Doughty, director of music. “At the same time, we have been prioritizing supporting new composers to help get more musical voices into the world. Commissioning a piece from Jordan was a perfect way to address these two initiatives simultaneously!”

Music Instructor Carrie Dowell expresses similar excitement about Millar. “I was searching for music for the String Ensembles to perform and specifically wanted music by a living composer, said Dowell. “I especially believe it’s important to highlight the work of females in classical music. I listened to several of her pieces and selected one that would work well for our ensemble. Jordan’s composition, ‘Iridessa,’ was beautiful and I knew it would be a great learning experience for the ensemble. The music is deceptively challenging to prepare and requires a high level of technical skills to perform on each instrument.”

“The piece, it’s inspired by a fairy,” said Millar. “I loved Tinkerbell when I was younger. So, Iridessa is one of her friends, she’s a light fairy. So I guess the piece is really ethereal. There’s lots of whole notes and really long chords. So it’s just very pretty sounding.”

“Iridessa” was originally composed for a string quartet as an assignment for one of Millar’s composition classes. Every week, Millar attends classes with the New York Philharmonic Very Young Composers Bridge Program and New York Youth Symphony. The piece was later adapted for a full orchestra and was performed at the “Opera Italiana is in the Air.” For Poly’s String Ensemble, Jordan created an arrangement of the piece perfectly tailored for Dowell’s students.  

“Every time a piece of mine is performed in front [of] a real audience, it always feels super surreal,” shares Millar regarding her experience watching her piece come to life at Poly. “It’s surreal because I think back to when I was in fourth grade, when I started doing this as just a hobby.” 

When Millar was nine, her mother enrolled her in the New York Philharmonic Composers Program, a program she still is in today. “What they do is they essentially would come to public schools and teach kids how to compose music, and we’d have the pieces that we wrote be performed and I loved it, so I’ve been composing ever since. But I’ve never actually written anything that’s been performed at Poly. That’s why this was exciting.”

“I mean, the fact that some of my friends are in string ensembles, it’s just really fun to watch them learn my music and actually play it,” Millar said. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity.”

“It is always exciting to share the music of young performers and composers,” said Dowell. “I will look forward to similar projects in the future.” 

“We are so happy that we were able to collaborate with Jordan and hope to do more of her work in the future,” said Doughty. “Additionally, there are some other student-composers we hope to work with soon. If anyone is a composer or has suggestions, I would love to speak with them!”