Taking Music to the Next Level

Talented Young Composer Lives Out Her Passion

Senior Nora Otte dabbles in the art of songwriting. When she’s not performing in the school’s musicals or caroling with the Cardinal Singers, Nora can be found sitting at her piano and working on a new song. Nora has composed a total of 10 songs, five of which are full piano compositions.
“I like to do the unexpected,” she said. “I like to write chord progressions where you don’t know where the song is going to end up. It takes the song on a different path.”
Ever since she was a young girl, Nora has been making music. She always enjoyed writing songs and singing around the house. In fact, instead of reading right away, she would sing the words in the books she read.
Her love for music can be traced back to her parents.
“They’re both really musical and growing up in that environment really influenced me,” she said.
Along with her parents, artists such as Cody Fry, Lizzie McAlpine, Stephen Sondheim, and Leonard Bernstein also inspired Nora’s passion for music.
“Cody Fry, with whatever he composes, has really cool orchestrations,” Nora said. “I would love to do something like that with an orchestra. With Stephen Sondheim, his compositions have this chilling, almost darker tone, which I really like.”
When she was eight, Nora wrote her first song. It was titled “Clockmaker,”and she is still able to perform it. Some of her other songs revolve around a theme of a circus. She composed three songs that went with this theme, titled “The Acrobat,” “The Carousel,” and “The Elephant and The Mouse.”
Her favorite song that she has composed is always the most recent one she’s finished. Right now, that song is Sliver Moon.
“It’s about who I’m gonna end up with someday in the future,” Nora said. “I guess the moon kind of knows, and it’s watching us both come together. Even though we don’t know it, the moon is sending us in the right direction toward each other.”
Nora’s greatest achievement is that, for the past two years now, she has received an honorable mention for her piano compositions for the National Endowment of the Arts Musical Theater Songwriting Competition. For this event, participants write a song that could be part of a musical. This year, Nora’s composition was inspired by the story of “The Last Flower,” a comic strip about war. Participants then send in a recording of their work to be judged, and the results are released a couple months later. The winners of this competition get to have their music recorded by Broadway musicians and their final songs then premiere on iHeartRadio Broadway.
Currently, Nora is working on a choral piece. She is finished with the piano accompaniment and is starting to write out the lyrics.
“Hopefully we could sing at the high school,” Nora said. “It wouldn’t even have to be in a concert, but just to hear it sung by a choir would be really cool.”