Vanguard Premieres Composers
Chris Beardsley lives near Longridge in Lancashire, U.K. His composing career began whilst studying music at Huddersfield University from 1989-92. Since then his works have been performed on a regular basis, including collaborations with the Hilliard Ensemble, John McCabe, the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, the Orchestra of Opera North, the Orlando Consort, the oboist Richard Simpson and the Goldberg Ensemble. His works have been featured at festivals both in the U.K. and abroad, including the Aldeburgh Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the City of London Festival, the King House Expo 2002 in Ireland, and the Siljan Festival in Sweden.
Chris has been the winner of two prestigious awards. In 1996 Divertimento for string orchestra won first prize at the Gregynog Festival and in 1998 Septimal for oboe, French horn, harp, and cello was winner of the quartet section of the 1998 Classic CD Composing Competition.
In May 2002 his song cycle Broken Heart of Autumn was premiered as part of the National New Composers’ Forum by the soprano Sally Johnson with the Orchestra of Opera North conducted by John Carewe. In October of the same year his String Quartet No. 2 (The Traveller) was highly commended in the Second Zoltán Kodály International Composers’ Competition and was premiered by the Alba String Quartet at the 2004 City of London Festival.
In 2003 Chris composed the orchestral work Striding Dales as part of the PRS Foundation/Making Music/spnm Adopt-a-Composer scheme. This piece was first performed by the Settle Orchestral Society and was nominated for the Making Music Prize at the 2004 British Academy of Composers and Songwriters Composing Awards.Most recently, his work for string orchestra Light Music was given its second performance by the Oare String Orchestra in Faversham, Kent. Chris is currently working on So travels the moon, a piece for string orchestra, which will be performed by the Wells Cathedral School in July 2007 at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Lightener of the Stars (Notes by the composer)
The Lightener of the Stars is a setting of the hymn Sorchar Nan Reul in an English translation from the Gaelic. The hymn appears in a collection of prayers, charms, and other poems and songs called the Carmina Gadelica that was collected by the amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912) in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910. The music is flavoured by this Gaelic influence in the use of rhythmic effects such as “scotch snaps” (or “catches”), and drones (particularly in the organ).
Andrew Bleckner (b. 1964) resides in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, where he serves as Composer-in-Residence for the Singing City
Choir. He studied composition with George Crumb at the University of Pennsylvania,
and recently served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Susquehanna
University. His choral music is published by Transcontinental Music Publications.
In 2003, his Psalm 150 for mixed choir and percussion ensemble was
featured at the annual Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA) conference.
He has received commissions from the Dale Warland Singers (1999 Choral Ventures
Program), Westminster Choir College, the Virginia Beach Symphony, Virginia
Wesleyan University and the Philadelphia Germantown Jewish Centre. His orchestral
music has been performed by the American Composers Orchestra (1996 Whitacre
Readings) and the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He has received several composition
awards, grants and fellowships including a 2001 Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation
Artist as Catalyst Grant, a 2001 and 2003 American Composers Forum Community
Partners Grant, an ASCAP Foundation Grant to Young Composers, the Helen L.
Weiss composition prize for vocal music from the University of Pennsylvania,
and a MacDowell residency.
Psalm 42 (Notes by the composer)
Psalm 42 is one of my favorite Psalms. I am attracted to the deep sense of longing and intimacy with which the speaker addresses the Divine. The text of Psalm 42 shares the same dramatic shape as many of the Psalms: an arc from faith to despair, and then a transformative return to hope and faith. The musical structure of my setting mirrors this same dramatic shape.
Marco Burak was born in 1967 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He holds degrees in composition from the University of Alberta and the University of Western Ontario. Recent commissions include a choral work for I Coristi (Edmonton) for their 10th anniversary, and for “Sundays at Three Organ Recital Series” (Edmonton) for their 25th anniversary. Two of Marco’s piano pieces are due to be published in the summer of 2007 by the Canadian National Conservatory of Music.In addition to writing music for the concert stage, Marco has been active as a composer for theatre and film.
Listen to the Music (Notes by the composer)
I composed Listen to the Music especially for Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest 2006. For the text, I turned to long-time collaborator Jen Frankel with whom I had written a one-act opera for young audiences. Jen’s poem bursts with dramatic images, contrasting with an island of other-worldly serenity. The poem celebrates the “music” of nature, both terrestrial and celestial, which I sought to capture in rhythm and contrasts of colour and texture. The piece begins loudly and tumultuously, suggesting the “music” of waterfalls and crashing waves. A quiet section follows, evocative of a scene on calm waters at night, with stars that “quiver like a river kissed by breeze in strange romance.” The final section begins loudly, recalling the rhythmic intensity of the beginning, but with a more overtly celebratory tone. The piece ends with the quiet invocation to listen....
Larry Christiansen received degrees in Music Composition from Ohio Wesleyan University and Northwestern University. His compositions include song-cycles, choral music (both accompanied and unaccompanied), a chamber opera, and works for solo instruments and chamber ensembles. He is on the faculty of Southwestern College.
He recently gave a faculty composition recital featuring his chamber opera, Antigone. He is a member of the Society of Composers and a lawyer with a special interest in copyright law. At the 1997 Western Region Conference of the Society at Fresno State University he made a presentation entitled Composers and the Copyright Law. A scene from his chamber opera, Antigone, was performed at the 1998 National Conference of the Society at the Indiana University School of Music. His song-cycle Three Psalms was performed at the 1999 Western Region Conference of the Society at the University of Hawaii. His song-cycle I Am, I Feel, In Love was premiered at the San Diego/Tijuana New Music Festival in 1999. In 2000 he made a presentation entitled Composers and the Copyright Law: Part Two at the Western Region Conference of the Society of Composers at the California Institute of the Arts. Also in 2000, his Essay for Piano was performed at the Chula Vista Public Library by Barbara Scheidker, and his choral works Jubilate Deo and Two Whitman Choruses were performed by the Concert Choir at Sam Houston State University at a conference of the Society of Composers. His informal essay, Modern Music, is published in Forum 2000, a publication of the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges. His Impromptu for Tuba and Piano was premiered by Mark Nelson at Pima College in 2001. He presented a paper entitled Pinpointing Originality in Copyrightable Works at the 2003 National Conference of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business. His Choral Suite won the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest for 2004.
Choral Suite (Notes
by the composer)
The first chorus, Song for a Dance, begins vigorously with a rhythm suggesting shake off your heavy trance and continues with melodic leaps consistent with the words leap into a dance. The tempo slows and the volume softens for the texts reference to the moon and the stars. This passage can be viewed as a transition to the next chorus.
The second chorus, A Night Song, is in a moderately slow tempo and features a soprano soloist with a sometimes sustained, sometimes smooth flowing accompaniment in the chorus. This is consistent with the texts references to the young May moon and the drowsy world is dreaming. The texture changes and the full chorus presents the words Then awake, for the heavens look bright my dear. The ending recalls the opening words and texture of soprano solo with choral accompaniment.
The third chorus, Streets, is based on the alternation of greatly contrasting text and music. It begins with a dance-like pattern in the lower voices while the sopranos sing Lets dance the jig. This lively section closes, and a male soloist, singing over a sustained sonority in the chorus, recalls a past love. The lively dance-like music returns. It is followed by the male soloist recalling how his past love broke his heart. The lively dance-like music returns and is followed by the soloist noting that he still treasures the memory of his hours together with his past love. The lively dance-like music returns one final time.
The fourth chorus, Echo, is imitative throughout. The moderate tempo and soft dynamic is suggested by the words Come to me in the silence of the night. The range of the opening melody is quite narrow. The range broadens in the melody set to the words Come with soft and rounded cheeks and reaches a high point to the words and eyes as bright as sunlight on a stream. This chorus closes with mild dissonances pointing to the sadness of the closing words: Come back in tears, O memry, hope, love of finishd years.
The final chorus, To a Skylark, opens with a vigorous fanfare-like passage to the words, Hail to thee, blithe spirit. An imitative section follows. It features a melody of ascending notes reflective of the words Higher still and higher from the earth thou springest. The fanfare-like passage returns and leads to an imitative section featuring various combinations of the voices to words imploring the skylark to Teach me half the gladness that thy brain must know. This builds to the final return of the fanfare-like passage which closes this chorus.
Dr. Mark Dal Porto has written for virtually all genres of music. His composition Galactica can be heard on the January 2005 Masterworks of the New Era CD (volume 4) performed by the Kiev Philharmonic. In July 2006, Dal Porto’s Song of Eternity was performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; it is included on volume 12 of Masterworks of the New Era to be released in July 2007. His choral work Spring, the Sweet Spring was performed in May 2007 by the Czech National Opera Choir and is scheduled for release on CD in November 2007.
Dal Porto’s Song of the Night for oboe, voice, and piano, commissioned by Trio Encantada, has been performed over 30 times. It had its international premiere in Madrid, Spain in June 2005 and has also been performed in Chengdu, China, and throughout the United States. His choral work When Your Song Rang out to Me was premiered by Vanguard Voices in June 2005. Dal Porto was also a featured composer and panelist for the 2004 John Donald Robb International Composers’ Symposium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Since 2001, Dal Porto has been a faculty member, resident composer, and coordinator of Theory/Composition at Eastern New Mexico University. He serves on the Board of Directors as Composition Representative for the Rocky Mountain Region of the College Music Society. In October 2004, his biography was selected to be published for life in Who’s Who in America (America’s preeminent biographical publisher).
At Midnight (Notes by the composer)
At Midnight is a setting of a text by the German Romantic poet Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866). A recurring melodic strophe (or melody) is used throughout to unite the five stanzas of text that are framed by the words “At midnight.” The work is scored for brass quintet, percussion (timpani, glockenspiel, cymbals, tam-tam), and mixed choir.
The introduction is played by the brass and percussion alone establishing a dark, melancholy atmosphere. Thereafter the choir enters and, for the first four stanzas of text, the music sustains its heavy, somber tone expressing anxiety too difficult to bear. However, in the fifth and final stanza, a solution is found causing the burden to be relinquished which changes the mood of the music entirely as it becomes more animated and triumphant in character. In this final stanza, a repeated rhythmic and melodic ostinato pattern is introduced (a derivative of the main melody) symbolizing the joyous pealing of morning bells soon to come that will eliminate all the grief felt earlier represented by the darkness of night.
When Your Song Rang Out to Me (Notes by the composer)
The text of When Your Song Rang Out to Me is by the German Romantic poet Clemens von Brentano (1778-1842) from his drama Aloys und Imelda written in 1812. Having a love for the genre of German Romanticism was one of the primary reasons for selecting this text. The musical style that emerged from my setting however turned out to be more American in its prominent use of syncopation and tall harmonies (stacked 9th, 11th, and 13th chords). I found the mood of Brentanos poem to be one of an exuberant love song which I tried to express in my musical setting of the poem.
Michigan-born Steven Errante received degrees
in conducting and composition from the University of Michigan and the
Juilliard School before teaching at the University of Michigan, Northern
Michigan University, and the University of Richmond. Since 1986, he has
been conductor of the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra and teaches in the
Department of Music at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He
also is accompanist for the Girls Choir of Wilmington, which his
wife Sandy directs, and has more recently become founding conductor of
the Wilmington Symphony Youth Orchestra. His compositions and arrangements
have been played by the Dearborn Symphony, the London Symphony, the North
Carolina Symphony, and the Wilmington Symphony, and his choral compositions
are published by Warner-Chappell.
Sing to the Lord
a New Song (Notes by the composer)
Dr. Forbes currently serves as the Associate Conductor of Choirs and Chair of Music Education at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. Dr. Forbes received the M.M. in conducting from Florida State University and the Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Florida. Previous positions range from conducting the Men’s Glee Club and Women’s Chorale at the University of Florida to conducting community choirs, and from public school teaching and church music positions to conducting musical theatre.
In his eleven years at Millikin University, Dr. Forbes has been instrumental in the growth of the choral music program from three traditional choirs to six traditional choirs and a variety of smaller vocal ensembles. Currently Dr. Forbes conducts the Millikin Chamber Chorale and Freshman Women’s Ensemble. In addition to his conducting responsibilities, Dr. Forbes also teaches conducting and the upper level vocal music education courses.Within the last year, out of a desire to see more quality contemporary compositions for choirs, Dr. Forbes has begun to compose. To date Dr. Forbes has written three compositions: Ave Maria (SSAA), O Nata Lux (SATB), and O Magnum Mysterium (SSAA). Ave Maria was awarded first prize in the treble-voice category for the 2005 Roger Wagner Contemporary Choral Composition Contest. The work has just been published by Alliance Music publications. O Nata Lux is the 2006 winner of Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest and will be premiered by Vanguard Voices in June 2007. O Magnum Mysterium and O Nata Lux are currently under review with a U.S. publisher.
O Nata Lux (Notes by the composer)
Dan Forrest was born in Elmira, New York, in 1978. He holds an M.Mus. in Piano Performance from Bob Jones University and is currently writing his dissertation for a D.M.A. in composition from the University of Kansas. He is on leave of absence from BJU, where he teaches music theory and composition.
Dan has published church music with eight different publishers, including choral works as well as solo, chamber, and orchestral music. His choral anthems have received favorable review in the ACDA Choral Journal, as well as numerous Editor’s Choice designations from Pepper Music and Creator Magazine. His catalog of concert music includes choral, instrumental, orchestral, and wind band works.
Dan joined ASCAP in 2003, and has received an ASCAP Standard Award every year since. He is listed in Who’s Who In America, is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, and is a Fellow of Melodious Accord (Alice Parker).
Dan’s recent awards include the $5,000 John Ness Beck Foundation Award for 2005, for his choral setting of The King Of Love My Shepherd Is (Beckenhorst Press), which has sold over 40,000 copies. He also won first prize in the 2005 University of Kansas Choral Society Composition Contest.
Dan recently won the 2005 ACDA Raymond Brock Composition Competition, out of hundreds of entries from across the country. His winning piece, Selah, was premiered at the St. Louis ACDA convention in March 2006. Dan was also recently awarded the 2006 Anthony Cius Award from the University of Kansas, given annually to the most outstanding composition student.
In May 2006, Dan was awarded a 2006 Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award from ASCAP, for his extended a cappellachoral work Words From Paradise (Hinshaw Music 2007). He was a guest at the 2006 ASCAP Concert Awards at the Lincoln Center.
Dan’s recent commissions include a piece for chorus and orchestra for the 2006 South Carolina Music Educator’s Association convention, an extended work for chorus and percussionists for the West Valley Chorale of Phoenix, Arizona, and a piece for chorus and orchestra to be premiered in Carnegie Hall in February 2007.
Dan’s 2006 Vanguard Premieres Prize is especially meaningful in light of his past association with Vanguard Voices: his A Basque Lullaby (Hinshaw Music 2007) won an honorable mention in the last Vanguard contest (2004). He extends warm-hearted thanks to Kevin Dewey and Vanguard Voices for their kind reception and outstanding performances of his works.More information about Dan and his music can be found at www.danforrest.com.
You Are the Music
(Notes by the composer)
A Basque Lullaby (Notes by the composer)
Born in 1973 in Lima, Peru, Antonio Gervasoni began his music studies at the early age of 5. He started taking piano lessons when he was 9 and by the age of 17 he had already performed many times in recitals and several school activities.
Having decided that playing piano was more a hobby for him, Mr. Gervasoni entered the University of Lima and enrolled in the undergraduate program of Systems Engineering. It was at this time that he made his first composition attempts but kept thinking of them as another interesting hobby. It was not until July of 1997 that he took this new hobby more seriously and started thinking of it as a possible career. At that time he enrolled in a short program of master classes given in Lima by Russian teachers from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory of Saint Petersburg, Russia. Among those teachers was Russian composer Vladislav A. Uspensky a former student of Dmitri Shostakovich who showed interest in Mr. Gervasonis work.
In February of 1998 Mr. Gervasoni traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where he again enrolled in a program of master classes with Maestro Uspensky. After returning to Lima he was commissioned to compose the music for the play The Crucible, and conducted a small orchestra at the plays performance in November 1999.
In 2001 he was accepted at the National Conservatory of Music in the program of Music Composition, to study with Peruvian composer Jose Sosaya, who had studied with Yoshihisa Taira at the Graduate Program of Composition of lÉcole Normale de Musique de Paris.
Mr. Gervasoni is currently in his last year of studies at the National Conservatory of Music and being also an Italian citizen plans on settling in Europe by 2005. Some of his compositions include a wind octet, a string quartet, an orchestral piece called Icarus, the music for a theatrical adaptation of the novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray, and the choral piece A-nir. He is currently working on a piece for percussion and spoken voice as well as a cantata based on a Sumerian text.
A-Nir (Notes by the composer)
I began composing A-nir in April of 2002, as a work for my composition workshop at the National Conservatory. After thinking of the many possible sources for the text, I finally decided I wanted an old text, preferably 1,000 years old or more. I first thought of the Bible, but since so many composers have taken texts from the Bible, I decided to look for a different source.
A friend of mine suggested that I look for Sumerian texts. I had a book about Sumerian civilization and found an interesting text in it. After searching the web I finally found the text at The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, a page from the website of the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford. The text is called The Lament for Sumer and Urim and is several pages long; the first three paragraphs correspond to the text I found in my book. I decided to use those three paragraphs and to my surprise I found the web page also included the phonetic text in Sumerian, which is called the composite text.
I found Sumerian very easy to pronounce and exchanged a few emails with the owners of the web page regarding copyright and information about the text.
My next step was to download a Sumerian-English dictionary, The Sumerian Lexicon, from the web. It helped me to make the correspondence between the words in the Sumerian and the English texts, which proved to be a very difficult task that took me about a week. It was after that that I began working on the piece, which was completed in two months. I called it A-nir, which in Sumerian means lamentation. I reviewed the piece in August of that same year, made a few changes, and gave the score its final touches.
I was very excited when I received the news of winning the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest, in the category of Emerging Composers. The idea of hearing A-nir sung by such a magnificent choir is absolutely thrilling.
Ive always had a special interest in Sumerian civilization and studying a bit of their language has made me more and more interested in their culture. As far as I know, Sumerian is considered to be the first recorded language in history older than Chinese and Im always excited when I think that the text I have used for my piece contains some of the first words recorded by mankind.
Augustus O. Hill, composer, conductor, is a graduate of Wilberforce University (B.S., mathematics), Miami University (M.S., personnel counseling), and Wayne State University (B.M., composition and M.M., composition and choral conducting), and the University of Michigan (Ph.D. in composition and music theory). He has studied composition with James Hartway, Harvey Sollberger, William Albright, Leslie Bassett, Michael Daugherty, and William Bolcom; theory with Andrew Mead and James Dapogny; conducting with Jan Harrington, Harry Langsford, Brazeal Dennard, and Dennis Tini; and organ with Marilyn Mason.
Currently a member of the Wayne State University music faculty, Dr. Hill teaches music theory and is conductor of the university Choral Union. He also serves as assistant director of the Brazeal Dennard Chorale of Detroit and director of the ensembles Community Chorus as well as organist and director in church music programs.
In December 1998 Ms. Jessye Norman performed Dr. Hills orchestral arrangement of Duke Ellingtons Praise God and Dance on her PBS holiday concert and included his string quartet and jazz trio arrangement of the same work in performance at Carnegie Hall. His many vocal, choral, and instrumental compositions and arrangements include Resurrection, a gospel cantata; String Quartet No. 2; Psalm 91 for soloists, chorus and orchestra; Songs from Mizraim; Three Ways for cello and piano; Impressions for Carillon; Fix Me, Jesus for mixed chorus; Acclamation for Brass and Timpani; Exegesis for tenor solo, chorus, and orchestra; Joshua Suite; Song of Reflection and Psalms of Praise.
Song Of Reflection/Psalms
Of Praise (Notes by the composer)
Sungji Hong was born in Korea in 1973. Her creative output includes works from solo to orchestra, choral, ballet, and electroacoustic music with special interest on timbre and pre-determined pitch structures. Sungji’s musical language is colorful with its imagery and exquisite delicacy.
Her works have been commissioned by the Fromm Music Foundation, the Tongyoung International Music Festival, MATA Festival, and regularly performed in international festivals and concert series throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia by leading ensembles and orchestras including the Soloists of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Nieuw Ensemble of Amsterdam, TIMF Ensemble, Arditti String Quartet, the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Belgrade, the Orchestra of Slovenian National Theatre Opera, and Ballet and Trio Mediaeval. Her music has been broadcast around the world and it has been released on the Dutton label and ECM Records.She has won the Brave New Works Composers Competition, the Temple church composition competition, the Crwth Competition, the international competition for original ballet music at the ISCM World Music Days-Slovenia, the Montserrat International Camera Music Composition Competition, the Theodore Front Prize (IAWM), the Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize (ACL), and others. She graduated from Hanyang University in Seoul (B.A. Hons), the Royal Academy of Music in London (M.Mus.) and the University of York (Ph.D.). www.sungjihong.com
Pater Noster (Notes by the composer)
Edmund Jolliffe (b. 1976) studied at Oxford and the Royal College of Music. Performances of his concert music have included the Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room in London and a recital by James Bowman of his song cycle The Signallers Vision as part of the opening concert to the Britten Festival. His piece Breathe was recently performed by the Trinity College of Music in a 60th birthday concert for Michael Nyman.
Prizes include an honourable mention in the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest, 2004; Top Honours: Emerging Composers, Waging Peace through Singing, 2002; winner of COMA/Tate Liverpool competition, 2002. He is an SPNM (Society for the Promotion of New Music) short listed composer (2003-2006).
Previous commissions include Piano 40 (Purcell Room, 2001), the Chapel Royal, St. James Palace (1997) and the choir of St. Margarets Church, Westminster. He has also written three musicals which include City Lights (Latchmere Theatre, London, 2001) and Undertaking Changes (The Old Fire Station Theatre, Oxford, 1997).
His latest piece Electric City, was recently
premiered in London by the Kensington Chamber Orchestra.
by the composer)
Gloria was awarded an honourable mention in the 2004 Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest and was first performed by Vanguard Voices on the 18th December, 2004 in Dearborn, Michigan, USA, under the direction of Kevin Dewey.
Mary Ann Joyce-Walter was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and received her M.A. and Ph.D. in theory and composition from Washington University, St. Louis, after which she moved to the New York City area where she has remained. She is an active composer and a Professor of Music at Manhattanville College. Her works have been performed at international festivals in Europe and Russia, as well as many parts of the United States. In Anguish and in Hope-a Psalm for Today, was commissioned and recently performed by the Manhattan Choral Ensemble at Earl Hall, Columbia University, New York City. A recently-commissioned piece for SATB and piano, In Anguish and in Hope-a Psalm for Today, was performed on June 9, 2006 by the Manhattan Choral Ensemble at Earl Hall, Columbia University, New York City. Other recent performances of her works during the past year include Aceldama for solo flute and string ensemble premiered by the Antara Ensemble, New York City; The Little Vagabond (Wm. Blake) for soprano and piano, at the Round Top Center for the Arts, and the Live Poets Society; and Gothic Fantasy for solo piano and Winter Weather Advisory (Ann Silsbee, poet) at Greenwich House, New York City. Cantata for the Children of Terezin for orchestra, chorus and children’s choir was recently selected by Editions de la Rue Margot (ERM) to be included in the CD series Masterworks of the New Era. The CD will be available in summer 2008. Mary Ann lists her influential teachers as A. Foster Sonderskov, John. J. Bezdek, Anna T. Walsh, Rosalyn Tureck, Robert Wykes, and Paul Pisk. Her works are published by Pioneer Drama and Gold Branch, and recorded by ERM-Media, Capstone and Pioneer Drama. She is a member of ASCAP, American Composers Forum, New York Women Composers, and the American Music Center.
O, Only for So Short a While (Notes by the composer)
We know from experience that loss is central to our lives. If we are not fully aware of that now, we will come to know it in time (“We have not here a lasting city...” Hebrews 13:14). The Aztec prayer, "Oh, only for so short a while have You have loaned us to each other," will help comfort us in facing all our losses because this poem reminds us that we are pilgrims, and all that we love is on loan: our parents, our friends, homes, children, our talents, health, and, finally, our very life on this earth. Nothing is ours to keep, even if we cling and grasp with all our strength.But we also know that our love for all that we cherish will not end, and we celebrate everything that has been given to us “for so short a while,” and praise our Creator for these gifts which are on loan to us.
Frank La Rocca earned the B.A. in Music from
Yale University, and the M.A. and Ph.D in composition from the University
of California at Berkeley, where his teachers were Edwin Dugger, Andrew Imbrie
and Olly Wilson. Among his awards and honors are First Prize in the 2003 Friends
and Enemies of New Music Competition, an NEA Composer Fellowship, an ASCAP
Young Composers Award, a California State Artist Fellowship, the Nicolo
de Lorenzo Prize, and Special Commendations in the ASCAP/Nissim Orchestral
Competition and Amherst Choral Competition. His music has been performed in
major cities throughout the United States and in countries on six continents.
Notable recent performances include Magnificat at Davies Symphony Hall,
San Francisco; Expectavi Dominum in the Cathedral at Aarschot, Belgium;
In This Place at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival and O Vos Omnes
by the Pacific Mozart Ensemble. For 2005, he has been commissioned by Stanford
Lively Arts and the San Francisco Girls Chorus to compose a new work to be
premiered at Stanford in February 2005, and performed by the SFGC at the World
Choral Symposium in Kyoto, Japan in July 2005.
Mr. La Rocca is a founding member, past Executive Director and current Artistic Director of Composers, Inc. of San Francisco, and teaches at California State University, Hayward, where he is Head of Composition and Theory.
Eli, Eli! (Notes by the composer)
Eli, Eli! was written in the summer of 2003. It is a setting of the first verse of Psalm 22, the prophetic precursor to Jesus cry from the cross just before he died. The piece weaves together both the original Aramaic spoken by Christ: Eli, Eli lama sabachthani? and the English translation, My God, my God why have you forsaken me? In this way, I hope to place the text in its historical context and to underscore for contemporary ears the power of the great spiritual anguish it expresses.
The piece embodies striking contrasts: from quiet, almost breathless utterances, to a powerful climactic cry of doubt and despair. My intent is to portray what I envision as both the outer and inner experience of Christ.
My thanks go G. Kevin Dewey for his excellent work with Vanguard Voices. I am honored to have had this work recognized by the Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest.
If you had asked the 12-year-old Antonio Martinez what he would be when he grew up, a musician would not have even crossed his mind. Yet Antonios destiny was forever changed on that fateful day a month and a half into his seventh grade year when, while registering at a new school, the school counselor said to the chubby boy, At six weeks in, the only classes we could put you where you would not be way behind are Physical Education or Beginning Choir.
So the sports worlds loss is musics gain, as Antonio has been singing ever since and his musical endeavors have grown to include vocal and instrumental music in church and concert settings, opera, education, and composition.
Antonio attended the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, studying voice with the late Debria Brown and choral conducting with Dr. Charles Hausmann. He studied additional choral techniques with Dr. Joel Plaag (while Plaag was a doctoral candidate at Moores) and operatic conducting with Dr. Donald Portnoy of the University of South Carolina. The highlight of his college years was placing as a semi-finalist in the 2001 American Choral Directors Associations National Student Conducting Awards.
As a composer, Antonio writes and arranges music for his church and for self-publishing. He has received commissions from such groups as Ars Nova of Royal Oak, Michigan (Dr. Craig Scott Symons, director) and Voces Capituli of Antwerp, Belgium (Dirk Maes, director).
Antonio is currently Director of Music and Dramatic Arts at St. Martins Lutheran Church (ELCA), Sugar Land, Texas, where he directs choirs, handbells, and a chamber orchestra. He also sings tenor with the Houston Grand Opera Chorus.
Antonio lives in Houston with his two cats that tend to ignore him unless their food dish is empty.
Tres Canciones para la Madre Bendecida (Notes by the composer)
These songs recall several church music styles: the first movement (Ángelus) begins with call-and-response, evoking a sense of worship. The men are the leaders, singing mostly in unison, while the womenthe congregationrespond in harmony. The men cap off the first half with the word Oremos (Let us pray). The second half is the prayer, with all parts singing together.
The second movement (Salve) was conceived as a kind of organum, with a single melodic line moving over a repetitive bass. Instead of adding lines that paralleled the melody, the dirge figure was fleshed out harmonically, and the melody line was doubled at the lower octave. The only time this homophonic motion breaks is during a short bit of canon and polyphonic writing.
Taking up the polyphonic idea from the second movement, the third movement (Ave Maria) opens in full polyphonic texture in the womens voices. A simple tenor line, accompanied by two-part soprano, marks the transition into the mens imitation of the womens polyphonic material. The final bars witness the reintroduction of the women, allowing the work to end in full choral splendor on Amen.
Since I am of Mexican ancestry, the Virgin Mother has been a tremendous influence in my life, a fact made even more astounding in that I am now a practicing Lutheran. But Mexicans learn from early on to revere our Blessed Lady. She protects us; she cares for us. She hears our prayers and succors us in our times of need. She watches us in our death, and she brings us to the Father, interceding on our behalf. She is Queen, she is Counsel, she is Mother. I dedicate these songs to the three most important women in my life, each one who has been a mother to me: my sister Elizabeth, who still buys her baby brother clothes; my mother, Esmeralda, who gave me the best thing a Sagittarian boy could have: total freedom while actually never having let go of the reins; and my late grandmother Eva, whose house was always home, whose kitchen was always warm, and whose arms were always open.
Ryan D. Neaveill, a native of lllinois, received his bachelors degree in music composition and theory in 1989 from Illinois Wesleyan University where he studied piano with Robert Bankert and composition with Abram Plum (a former student of Luigi Dallapiccola).
After graduating from IWU, Ryan spent five years teaching piano and voice lessons at the Morton Academy of Music in Morton, Illinois, as well as serving as organist and choir director at the Eureka United Methodist Church in Eureka, Illinois. Ryan held the position of Music Director at the First United Methodist Church in Urbana, Illinois, from 1997 to 2002, and then accepted the position of Minister of Music at Grace United Methodist Church in Decatur, Illinois, where he continues to serve.
Ryan is an accomplished composer and arranger with pieces published by Hinshaw Music, Inc., Theodore Presser Co., and Concordia Publishing House.
Ryan is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers; the American Choral Directors Association; the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers; as well as the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts.
He is also a certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church as well as a member of the Order of St. Luke, a religious order in the United Methodist Church dedicated to sacramental, liturgical scholarship, education, practice, and spiritual formation.
Ryan lives in Champaign-Urbana (home of the University of Illinois) with his wife, Jodi, his son, Levi, and his daughter, Lena.
Gloria (Notes by the composer)
I first began composing this piece around 1993. I had plans to set the text from the Latin Mass in a very rhythmic style and can remember being influenced to a degree by some of John Leavitts compositions. I wrote a few measures in 5/8 time (the piano introduction and opening choral lines) but then got busy with other things and left it unfinished.
Several years later, in 2001, I was looking for some things to do with my church choir and as I was looking through some of my old pieces I found the unfinished score for Gloria and decided it was worth finishing.
I still liked the rhythm of the 5/8 meter but decided that the text et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (and on earth peace to men of good will) needed to have a more tranquil quality in order to convey peace, so I made that section contrast with the rest of the piece.
The version my church choir sang was slightly different. At the recapitulation of the main theme (m. 79), instead of singing Gloria, they sang Hosanna (using a slightly different rhythm) as this was for a Palm Sunday service; however my original plan was to use the Gloria text all the way through as it is here.
Dan Pinkston was born December 1, 1972 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. He came to the United States to study music at Ouachita Baptist University. Pinkston continued his composition study at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, earning a Master of Music degree in 1997, and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 2000.
Dr. Pinkston is currently assistant professor of music theory and composition at Simpson College in Redding, California. Previously, he taught as adjunct professor of music theory and composition at Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, teaching courses in 20th-century theory, composition, guitar, and music technology.
Among Pinkstons many compositions is a setting of the four New Testament canticles for choir and orchestra. Entitled Canticles, this piece includes the Nunc Dimittis, for which Pinkston won the 2000 American Choral Directors Association Brock Memorial Composition Contest. The Nunc Dimittis is published by Warner Bros. Publications under the Lawson-Gould product line.
Other composition awards include the 1999 Austin ProChorus Composition Contest, the 2000 Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity Composers Contest, and the 1998 American-Romanian Team for the Arts Composition Contest. Recent commissions include the Concerto for Clarinet for clarinetist Michael Thrasher, Victimae Paschali Laudes for Renaissance Consort of Fort Worth, and the Delta Omicron Thor Johnson Commission for a work for clarinet and piano premiered at the 2003 Delta Omicron Convention. ASCAP Standard Awards were granted in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004.
Many of Pinkstons woodwind hymn arrangements have been published, including Three Hymns for Clarinet and Piano (Morning Star Music Publishers), Nothing but the Blood of Jesus (Light of the World Music), and He Leadeth Me (Light of the World Music).
Pinkston, his wife, Lori, and their two young daughters live in Redding, California.
Usquequo, Domine? (Notes by the composer)
This piece was composed during a period in which virtually all of my vocal music was based on Biblical poetry. The text of Psalm 13 was particularly attractive, as it showed the transformation of a person from despair and anguish to joy and gratitude. Musically, the piano part uses a brief fragment borrowed from a Bach fugue (BWV578) while the chorus declaims the Psalm text in pandiatonic lines and harmonies.
Stuart Scott received his doctorate from Ball State University in 1986. He has held positions in Ohio, Maryland, Indiana, and Michigan. He is currently professor of music and humanities at Macomb Community College where he serves as director of the Macomb Chorale, Bella Voce, and Expressions. His compositions include: Bell Requiem for soloist, choir and bells; Mass for soloists, choir and rhythm section; The Slaying of the Innocents for three choirs, double brass quintet, tenor and bells; Red, Red, Rose for choir and bells (piano); Bring Me Home for choir; Hodie for choir and bells (organ and brass); Sing Your Praise for choir and piano; Alleluia for choir and bells; I Lived with Visions for women's choir, horn and guitar; and Perspectives for adult choir, children's choir, piano, harp, cello, flute, horn, and percussion.
(Notes by the composer)
The text for Summer describes a hot, muggy summer day/night. This movement has a lot of word painting set within a slow lazy tempo with just a hint of blues.
Autumn also features word painting, but in this movement the piano plays an idea that at times suggests rain and at others falling leaves.
Winter is organized according to the rhyme scheme of the poem. The choir is juxtaposed against the soloists. While word painting is not prominent, the mood is stark at times and empty at others, reflecting the season.
Spring is a joyful contrast to Winter. It is a very rhythmic movement with a meter of seven. However, rather than dividing the measures in regular groupings, the manner in which the seven beats are divided is constantly changing.
Alan Smith was born in London in 1962 and spent his childhood in Croydon. He sang with various local choirs and attended the nearby Royal School of Church Music, where he began organ lessons with Michael Fleming at the age of ten. He was appointed as Organist and Choirmaster of a local church at the age of 16, and later became Organ Scholar at Kings College, London, where he studied from 1981 to 1984. As part of his music degree, he specialized in composition, studying with Nicola LeFanu, David Lumsdaine and George Nicholson.
Following postgraduate training at the London Institute of Education, Alan began his teaching career. After working in various schools, he became Head of Music at Hazelwick School, Crawley in 1990, a post he continues to hold. In the same year, he came to some prominence by winning the RSCMs annual composing competition. His successful entry, Let the Peoples Praise You, became his first published piece and continues to be widely performed. Since then, his choral compositions have won several awards, most recently the Thornesian Prize in 2003 and an honorable mention in the 2004 Vanguard Premieres Choral Composition Contest.
Alans output is predominantly of choral and vocal music, much of it written for specific choirs or occasions, and his catalogue runs to over 150 works. In the UK, his music is published by Animus, Curiad, Cantiones Press, Escorial Edition, Fagus Music and RSCM, while in America, he is published by Abingdon Press, CanticaNOVA, OUP, Pavane and Roger Dean.
Since 1998, Alan has been Director of Music at St Andrews church in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, where he lives with his wife and three children.
The Earth Is The Lord's (Notes by the composer)
The piece is a setting of Psalm 24 and I have tried to create a work that reflects the energy and excitement of this text. I have also tried to echo the textual repetition in the way the music is structured.
The mood is initially set by the asymmetrical ostinato pattern on the organ (4/4 + 6/8 + 4/4 + 7/8), which is then taken up by the brass instruments. The voices enter, at first in unison, while the organ and brass continue with the introductory pattern. Almost all of this opening section is built over a constant pedal a bottom C, the lowest note on the organ.
The music modulates to E major at bar 32. The brass group is silent and the organ begins a new ostinato figure, which exploits shifting accent patterns in bars of 7/8. There is a brief reappearance of the opening material, modulating to G for a restatement of the second theme at bar 56. New material appears at bar 68. The choir have a series of imitative entries, basically a cappella except for the fanfare-like triplets played by muted trumpets. Brass and organ are added to the texture as this section builds to a climax at bar 83.
The first section (arriving a little unexpectedly in C major) is then repeated, but instead of modulating to E, it leads to a new section at bar 102. The imitative vocal entries (who is the King of Glory) are similar to the earlier a cappella section, except that now the music is in 5/4 and built over a Bb pedal. The section closes with a homophonic declamation by choir and brass leading again to the opening music. This is basically a repeat of the music from bar 84, though the imitative vocal entries are now supported by brass. This time, however, whole bars of silence follow each statement of who is the King of Glory, adding to the dramatic intensity of the music. A brief coda begins at bar 136, using repetition to build the piece to a thrilling climax.
William So is currently studying for a Master of Music degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, with composition, trumpet performance and music ministry concentrations. As a native of Hong Kong, he started his musical training at the age of 15 with Mr. Donald Mak and Miss Estella Ho. His early musical life was inspired by Dr. Dorothy Cheung, Mr. Boron Li and Miss Ivy Wong in both musical training and music ministry.
Mr. So is proficient with trumpet, recorder, clarinet and voice. He holds Grade 8 certificates of the above instruments at Royal Academy School of Music, London, United Kingdom, and AMusTCL of music theory of Trinity Music School, London, United Kingdom.
After his graduation with a bachelors degree in Cognitive Science at the University of Hong Kong, he went on to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to study composition with Dr. William Mac Davis, and trumpet with Dr. James Sims. Recently he received the Carolyn Lott Scholarship for his contribution to compositions on church instrumental music.
As a composer, Mr. So holds several professional memberships, such as CFAMC (Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composition) and ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers). His compositions have been performed extensively in Hong Kong and the United States.
O Bone Jesu
(Notes by the composer)
This music uses extensively pandiatonic harmony, with well-crafted contrapuntal techniques, and delicate text-painting techniques in order to express the beauty of the text.
John White, Fulbright-University of Vienna Distinguished Chair in Humanities (2003-2004), was born in Rochester, Minnesota in 1931 and was educated at the University of Minnesota (B.A., Magna cum Laude). He also holds the M.A. and Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester where he studied composition with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers. Now living in Westminster, Colorado, his music is frequently performed at meetings of the Society of Composers, Inc. and over the years by the Cleveland Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony, Eastman Wind Ensemble, Oklahoma City Symphony, Akron Symphony, Madison Symphony, and numerous university and community ensembles.
Among Whites recently published compositions are Palindromes for Native American Flute (J.P. Publications), Time and the Water for Horn and Piano (R.M. Williams Publishing) and Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble (Ludwig Music Publishers). Palindromes for Native American Flute has been recorded by James Pellerite on the Zalo/Provincia label. A prolific composer for the human voice, his choral works are published by G. Schirmer, Lawson-Gould and others.
In 1996 White held a Fulbright Research Fellowship to Reykjavik, and in 1997 a Fellowship from the American Scandinavian Foundation to Göteborg, Sweden. His newest book is entitled New Music of the Nordic Countries (Pendragon Press, NY, 2002) and among his other books in print is Theories of Musical Texture in Western History (Garland Publishing, 1995). His music is recorded on the Advent, Mark, Capstone, Opus One and Zalo/Provincia labels; and his compositions are published by G. Schirmer, Galaxy, Ludwig, RMW and others.
For many years White taught composition, theory and cello at the University of Florida where he is Professor of Music Emeritus. He also was Professor of Music at Kent State University and Whitman College; and he has served as Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Olympiad (Notes by the composer)
The ancient Greek poet Pindar (518-438 B.C.) was noted for his poems about the Olympic Games during Greeces Golden Age period, The Age of Pericles. Indeed, John White discovered these poems in 2002 when modern Greece was preparing for the 2004 Olympics. Composed in 2003 and 2004, Whites Olympiad is scored for SATB chorus, brass quintet, timpani, percussion, and piano as prescribed by the Vanguard Premieres 2004 Choral Composition Contest. Thus, although the work is being premiered a year after the 2004 Olympics, it remains a tribute to the ancient Athenian games. The two poems used in Olympiad are Jump and Discus extolling the virtues of the athletes and of the Olympiad itself. Pindar was known as a lyric poet so his work lends itself to musical setting. Because modern singers usually do not read the ancient Cyrillic script, English transliterations of the poems are used in the score so that the singers can reproduce the sounds of the ancient Greek language.
The work opens with a fanfare-like passage which appears briefly again at the end. Although the two poems are in a continuous setting, the beginning of the second poem, Discus is signaled by a prominent passage in the tubular chimes, a gesture which also recurs near the end.
White, a prolific choral composer, uses many traditional choral techniques including imitative textures, melodic unisons, and hymn-like passages. Being an experienced choral singer himself, he strives to achieve choral lines which are both challenging and rewarding to the singers.