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OLG student’s composition comes to life through the Fremont Symphony Orchestra

Our Lady of Guadalupe (OLG) School student Sahana Hariharan recently saw her own composition come to musical life by the Fremont Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday, March 21.

When OLG music teacher Francine Zeppa gave her students an assignment to craft their own composition, Sahana wrote down her notes in a single day and turned it in two days early. A few days later, Zeppa announced it had been selected from among the entire school for a competition hosted by the Fremont Symphony Orchestra. A few weeks later, more good news poured in – Sahana’s composition, “Night Owl,” had won, and it would go on to be professionally arranged and performed by the orchestra.

“Sahana is a very talented and attentive student in music class. She followed the guidelines and produced a very stirring and expressive piece,” said Zeppa. “Although Sahana originally had difficulty in coming up with a song title, ‘Night Owl’ reflects the tone of the piece very nicely.”

Sahana’s family received an official letter a month after the announcement, and she was pleasantly surprised.

“I was not expecting it,” Sahana said. “I was excited to be selected.”

But Sahana’s parents weren’t so surprised, nodding to their daughter’s early interest in music and training.

“We always remember her humming a tune or so since she was around 3 years old,” said Sahana’s mother, Lavanya Venkiteswaran. “She had a formal ‘Indian classical’ music education for around four years. She wanted to pause that and explore Western music with her piano lessons. She has been learning the piano for around three years now.”

Nicholas Burdick, executive director for the Fremont Symphony Orchestra, noted the symphony’s 43-year run of performing children’s concerts, which are unique in that they feature actual student compositions that have been professionally arranged for symphony orchestra.

“We were very pleased with the way this year’s compositions turned out,” said Burdick. “Sahana’s composition, ‘Night Owl,’ added a beautiful variety to all of the wonderful pieces that were featured. Many former winners consider this experience one of their favorite memories, and we are so pleased to offer students an inspirational first experience with classical music.”

When the big day arrived on March 21, Sahana was asked to appear onstage to be honored for winning the competition with her masterpiece. Her father, Rajesh Hariharan, beamed with pride for his musically inclined daughter.

“I am extremely proud of what she has achieved,” said Hariharan. “It is amazing to see that she can compose something original at this age.”

Her mother also shared in the joy of this monumental milestone in Sahana’s young life.

“I am very proud of my talented daughter!” she said. “I was very surprised to hear that she had composed her own music; submitted it to school and got selected. She did it all on her own! She has put in hard work to get this composition done. I am hoping that her musical journey continues and she feels more encouraged to try composing as a result of this.”

For more information about the Fremont Symphony Orchestra’s children’s concert program, visit



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