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Local Student Composes a Melody Performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Photo of John Lawrie (Left)

Melody Contest winner John Lawrie (left) with CCM composer Brian Nabors.

A sophomore at Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky, 16-year-old John Lawrie was in English class when his teacher, Mrs. Ruth, handed out an extra credit assignment.

As part of their commitment and mission to inspire local musicians and music lovers alike, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) holds an annual Melody Contest for local school students. The CSO provides a poem and invites students to submit a melody of their own invention based off it. The poem titled The Bell Ringer’s Song, was written by Mark Flanigan.

John has been playing the piano for 12 years. He felt inspired when he read the poem which calls for equality and justice, a call to action for us all. Two weeks later, a composition he titled, “America’s Proud Lullaby” (The Bell Ringer’s Song) was created.

The CSO is known for innovation and has a history of commissioning and premiering new music by some of Cincinnati’s young composers. In 1942, a local composer, Aaron Copland was commissioned by the CSO to compose a song which reflected hope as our country was at war. “Fanfare for the Common Man” was the result of that commission.

John’s score was turned over to Cincinnati Conservatory of Music where composer Brian Nabors had the task of reviewing all submissions and choosing a winner. After choosing John’s hand-written composition for piano, Brian composed the melody for an entire orchestra.

“This honor is incredible,” says Stephanie Lawrie, John’s mom. “Not many people get to hear a great orchestra like the CSO compose and perform a melody your son dreamt up. We hope he can use his talents to make a difference in the world.”

John was elated to hear his composition performed for the first time by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra on Jan. 24.

Share Inspiration

Give more students like John an opportunity to leave their creative mark on the world. Make a gift to the CSO. Simply contact Kate Farinacci at 513.744.3202 or

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