In July, I was contacted by my choral director at the University of Missouri, Dr. R. Paul Crabb. He told me he thought I should write a piece for the University Singers' fall concert, the theme of which being "Laudate et Jubilate". I was deeply honored — how often does a composer come across the opportunity to write for such a phenomenal and renowned ensemble? He sent me a list of the repertoire for the concert and suggested a few pieces for which I could write a companion piece. I immediately settled on Goodnight, Dear Heart, a beautifully patient piece by Kansas composer Dan Forrest. The poetry for the piece is "Warm Summer Sun" by Mark Twain, which he wrote in memory of his daughter. In writing a companion piece, of course, I would have to create both musical and textual contrast in my work. I searched and searched for a text that would compliment the Forrest piece, but I couldn't find anything that truly inspired me. I sat down at the piano to flesh out some preconceived musical ideas I had, and as I did so, words and a melody came to me. I scribbled down both the notes and the text in admittedly messy script and played it through a few times. I was shocked — I wasn't typically a fan of writing my own poetry, as I'd only endeavored to do so for one of my compositions on one other occasion — but I thought I had married the music to my own words quite successfully. As I continued to write, more words came, and more musical ideas, too. Before I knew it, I had the finished score of The World Awakes in front of me. I'm so excited to begin work on this piece with the University Singers, and I can't wait for its October 23rd premiere!
R. Paul Crabb, University of Missouri's Director of Choral Activities, earned degrees in Music Education, Vocal Performance and Choral Music Education. His ensembles have performed at state, regional and national conventions and have traveled extensively in Mexico, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Russia, Bulgaria and Australia. Crabb served as assistant conductor at the Russian/American Choral Symposium for two years where his choir was invited as the resident American choir at the Moscow Conservatory. He served for one year as a visiting professor in Salzburg, Austria, where he taught and worked with the choir of the Salzburg Cathedral. He has taught conducting in Taiwan, eighteenth-century music in England, and studied sixteenth century polyphony in Italy with the renowned Peter Phillips. More recently he served as Guest Visiting Choral Professor at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary - the first American selected for that position. In 2007 he became the first American conductor invited to lecture in the Choral Department at the University of Vienna's Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst. In 2008 Crabb accepted the position as Resident Guest Conductor of the Baroque Orchestra of Domenica Cimarosa in Avellino, Italy, where he has conducted performances in the Naples and the Amalfi Coast region for the past several years and recently completed a recording project with the same ensemble. He also accepted a position as the resident conductor for the Dante Music and Arts Festival in Nagoya, Japan during March of 2010. Invitations for 2011-12 included California, New York, Washington, D.C., Italy, Austria and Brazil. In 2015 he was awarded a research leave at MU, using the time to lecture, perform and research choral music in Sweden, including lectures and performances at Lund University, Malmӧ College of Music and the Royal Conservatory in Stockholm. He also presented seminars and workshops in Austria, Italy and Slovakia. Invitations for 2016 include Austria, Italy, China and Poland.
Under Crabb's leadership, MU's University Singers have been recognized as one of the premiere university choirs in the United States. In November of 2009, they were invited to perform at the national convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization at Yale University--one of nine choirs selected by audition from across the U. S. In May of 2010 they accepted an invitation to perform at some of the most prestigious venues in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Salerno, Italy. This tour was sponsored by several institutions in these cities, as well as the office of the U. S. Consulate General in Naples. In January 2011 they performed by invitation at the Missouri Music Educators Association state convention. In March of that same year, they traveled to Chicago following an acceptance of an invitation to perform at the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association during a session on eighteenth-century performance practice. This same ensemble was the featured choir for a residency of Peter Phillips of the Tallis Scholars in April of 2012. In November of 2012, Crabb hosted Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt's residency during which he worked with students and conducted a performance of Choral Union's Lord Nelson Mass. In January of 2013, they returned to Missouri Music Educators Association conference as one of three collegiate choirs featured for the special 75th Anniversary convention. In May 2014 they were invited to perform in Austria and Hungary, including the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and performing with the Salzburg Cathedral choir. Crabb has also been recognized for his teaching skills. He was the recipient of the Walker and Doris Allen Teaching Award (Truman State University), was Missouri’s Professor of the Year, and in April of 2012 received the William T. Kemper Award for Teaching Excellence from MU. His published research has appeared in the MENC research journal Update and Choral Journal. He has also published editions of choral music with several major publishers in the U. S. Crabb is also Artistic Director and conductor of the professional vocal chamber ensemble, Prometheus.
MU's University Singers have been recognized as one of the premiere university choirs in the United States. In November of 2009, they were invited to perform at the national convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization at Yale University--one of nine choirs selected by audition from across the U. S. In May of 2010, they accepted an invitation to perform at some of the most prestigious venues in Milan, Bologna, Rome and Salerno, Italy. This tour was sponsored by several institutions in these cities, as well as the office of the U. S. Consulate General in Naples
In January 2011 they performed by invitation at the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) state convention. In March of that same year, they traveled to Chicago following an acceptance of an invitation to perform at the national convention of the American Choral Directors Association before accepting an invitation to perform at the White House in Washington, D.C. This same ensemble was the featured choir for MU residencies of Peter Phillips (Tallis Scholars) and Joseph Flummerfelt in 2012. In January of 2013, they returned to Missouri Music Educators Association conference as one of three collegiate choirs featured for the special 75th Anniversary convention. In May 2014, they were invited to perform in Austria and Hungary, including the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and performing with the Salzburg Cathedral choir. In May 2016 they completed a performance tour in China where they were hosted by various universities.
I am beyond thankful to have the opportunity to be writing for my dear friend Patrick Graham and the University of Missouri's acclaimed New Music Ensemble. I've worked with Patrick many times before in opera scenes, Mizzou's University Singers, and in a full production of Le Nozze di Figaro, and every single time I've been blown away by his unmistakeable passion for music, his raw talent, and his stunningly beautiful voice. Knowing this, I went to him and asked if he would be interested in performing my work if I wrote him a piece for baritone and Pierrot ensemble. To my excitement, he eagerly agreed, expressing his great admiration for new music. I got right to work on searching for a text, but I couldn't find anything that quite fit the ideas already forming in my head. In the following days, I went to a local concert in Columbia, MO and heard an art song for soprano by one of my fantastic composer friends. I absolutely adored the piece, and the text was equally as enticing and gorgeous as the music. I looked at the program to see who wrote the text, and low and behold, it was a mutual friend of Patrick and mine, Lee K. Acton! I contacted Lee and told her about my project, and she generously agreed to write something brand new for my work. We've been in close contact ever since, shooting ideas back and forth about the exciting collaboration. I will have more news about this new composition soon, and I can't wait to begin writing!
Originally from Lee’s Summit, MO, baritone Patrick Graham is a senior at the University of Missouri pursuing a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance. He currently studies voice with Steven Tharp, having previously studied with Ann Harrell. Patrick’s operatic credits include Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Marco in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, in addition to scene work encompassing operas by Copland, Mozart, Strauss, and Verdi. He is a 3-year member of Mizzou’s University Singers, under the direction of Dr. R. Paul Crabb, having travelled internationally with the group to Austria and Hungary in 2014, and to China in 2016. Patrick’s previous theatrical credits include, Aldolpho in The Drowsy Chaperone and Sweeney Todd in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Patrick recently placed first in his division at the National Level of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) National Student Auditions, in addition to placing first in his division at the Central Region NATS competition in both 2015 and 2014.
The New Music Ensemble, under the direction of faculty composer and Alarm Will Sound member Stefan Freund, collaborates with MU’s faculty and student composers, performs frequently on and off campus, and works with some of the world’s leading composers and interpreters of new music. Seven Graduate Assistantships are available for New Music Ensemble members (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, piano, and one rolling position).
Over the last five years, the ensemble has performed regularly in St. Louis, in such venues as the Sheldon Concert Hall, Shoenberg Theatre at the Missouri Botanical Garden, Contemporary Art Museum, World Chess Hall of Fame, and the Jewel Box at Forest Park, collaborating with visual artists in the Sound of Art series. The Ensemble has been coached by prestigious guest composers and performers, visiting the campus as a result of the New Music Initiative, including Steven Stucky, Tod Machover, Matt Haimovitz, eighth blackbird, the Verdehr Trio, Nico Muhly, Andrew List, and others.
I was recently featured alongside my choral composition, Joy, on Composers Circle. Composers Circle is a website dedicated to discovering and promoting a new promising composer each day. Feel free to check out my feature by clicking the link above!
I have recently received a very exciting commission! The artistic director and conductor of Kansas City's Heartland Men's Chorus, Dustin Cates, has commissioned me to write a piece for their ensemble to be accompanied by the UMKC Conservatory's Graduate Fellowship Brass Quintet, the Volker Brass for their Winter concert in their 2016-2017 season. The full instrumentation of the piece will be TTBB w/ divisi, piano, and brass quintet. I'm looking forward to working with Mr. Cates and the two ensembles. It will be a very fruitful collaboration for everyone involved! Please take a moment to read about the Heartland Men's Chorus below or on their website.
Heartland Men’s Chorus provides excellence in performance while advancing men’s choral music, building community, and reaching out to diverse audiences. The members of HMC have joined together for the purpose of making music as a not-for-profit, volunteer chorus of gay and gay-sensitive people who are making a positive cultural contribution to the entire community. The Chorus regularly performs with more than 150 singers, and presents a three-concert season at the historic Folly Theater. During the 2014-2015 season, more than 6,500 audience members experienced the music and message of HMC. An even greater number of people hear the Chorus at community outreach events throughout the year. HMC performs a varied repertoire of music, including jazz, Broadway, popular and classical works. In recent years, the Chorus has become known for its musical documentary format which uses music, narration and multi-media to illustrate social issues. The Chorus has performed nationally and internationally, but places particular importance on performing in smaller communities throughout the Heartland where our voices most desperately need to be heard. Heartland Men’s Chorus is a proud member of GALA Choruses, the international association of the lesbian and gay choral movement. Founded in 1982, GALA Choruses represents 190 choruses, their 10,000 singers and 750,000 patrons in Australia, Europe, South America, and North America. Heartland Men’s Chorus is registered with the IRS as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Please consider making a donation to support our music and mission.
Volker Brass is the graduate brass quintet in residence at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Founded in 2008, the ensemble is composed of graduate students in pursuit of a career in the performing arts. Volker Brass performs on recitals and masterclasses throughout the year while also preparing for competitions and tours. In addition, the ensemble has performed on masterclasses with Mirari Brass and the Center City Brass Quintet. Community involvement is very important to the members of the ensemble. Many times each year the group visits local high schools to perform and work with younger students. The ensemble also regularly performs at various functions and meetings on UMKC’s campus. Regular rehearsals and performances provide an opportunity for the ensemble to continue discovering new and exciting repertoire in brass quintet literature as well as developing ensemble skills necessary for a career as a professional musician. Members of Volker Brass have played with various symphony orchestras and brass quintets prior to joining the ensemble, and are always freelancing in the greater Kansas City area.
Joy has recently been selected for performance on August 5th by the recently founded professional vocal ensemble KC VITAs Chamber Choir in Kansas City, Missouri. Their founder and director, Jackson Thomas, strives to work with new composers. Supporting new music is a noble goal, and KC VITAs does it well! I was invited to play two of the hands of the four-hand piano part with Baker Purdon, the pianist that I originally premiered the work with! I'm so excited to rejoin him at the bench and to have another performance of this work! Please take some time to read about the ensemble and its director below and on their website.
Standing for the Kansas City Vibrating Internal Thyroarytenoids, the KC VITAs Chamber Choir is an ensemble of professional singers based in the Kansas City area. The choir is committed to performing new music, benefitting composers, performers, and the future of "Contemporary-Classical" music.
Currently in their second year, KC VITAs is preparing for their next performance series and undergoing some huge, exciting changes, including a new website (welcome!) and has obtained 501(c)(3) Non-Profit status!
Originally from Carrollton, MO, Jackson Thomas is a conductor, tenor, and teacher based in the Kansas City area. Jackson received his undergraduate degree in Voice from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a minor in German after studying abroad in Berlin, Germany. While at UNL, he performed leading roles within both the musical theatre and opera programs, and was a member of Chamber Singers and University Singers. He studied conducting with Dr. Pete Eklund and Dr. Therees Hibbard, and voice with Dr. Kevin Hanrahan and Dr. Mark Gruett (Berlin.) Since his return to Kansas City, Jackson held music teaching positions with the Park Hill School District and Kansas City Public Schools, was a soloist/section leader at St. John's United Methodist Church, and is in his second year singing with the GKCAGO Schola Cantorum. He currently serves as Associate Conductor of the Concert Choir, Women's Choir, and Vocal Musicum Collegium at the University of Kansas as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, is Director of Choral Music at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Lenexa, KS, and teaches private voice and piano. He currently studies conducting with Dr. Paul Tucker while finishing his Master's degree in Choral Conducting, and recently competed as a semifinalist in the SWACDA Conducting Competition. Next year, Jackson will direct the KU Men's Glee Club and serve as Associate Conductor of the KU Chamber Singers.
I have just been informed that my composition, "Joy" for SATB voices w/ divisi and four-hand piano has been selected for publication by Santa Barbara Music Publishing. I am very excited to now be published by one of the largest choral music publishers in the entire world! Listen to the piece below, performed by the Liberty Senior High School Concert Choir, conducted by Dr. Rika R. Heruth, and accompanied by myself and Baker Purdon.
In a quick change before the concert, the pianist for the upcoming premiere of selections from my song cycle "Musings of Sky" will now be Dr. Paola Savvidou. Please take time to read about her on her website or below!
Paola Savvidou serves as Assistant Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Missouri. She teaches applied piano, undergraduate and graduate courses in piano pedagogy and wellness, and coordinates both the Group Piano Program and Experiencing Piano; a community program offering group class and private lessons for beginning adults and children aged 6-9. A devoted advocate of contemporary music, Dr. Savvidou is a member of the New Muse Piano Duo with Jonathan Kuuskoski; an ensemble dedicated to commissioning and performing works by living composers. Their concert tours have included performances across the Mid-West, East Coast, Norway, Greece, and Cyprus. Dr. Savvidou's research is focused on utilizing Laban Movement Analysis, Yoga, and creative movement to improve alignment while deepening expressivity in performance. She has presented her work at prominent conferences including the MTNA National Conference, the International Society for Music Education Conference, the European Association for Schools of Music Conference, College Music Society’s International Conference, and the European Piano Teachers Association. With support from a Mizzou Advantage grant she is conducting cross-disciplinary research with Engineering and Physical Therapy specialists on the topic of injury-prevention for pianists. She has won Article of the Year through MTNA twice in a row; in 2015 for her article "In Search of the 'Perfect' Musical Performance" published in the American Music Teacher and in 2016 for her interdisciplinary research article "Assessing Injury Risk in Pianists: Using Objective Measures to Promote Self-Awareness." In Spring 2015 she received the prestigious Purple Chalk Teaching Award by the College of Arts & Science Student Council at the University of Missouri. As of Fall 2014 she directs the Experiencing Music Program, which brings music classes, drum lessons, choir, and educational concerts by MU students to the Boys & Girls Club of Columbia. In the summers she directs the Music of the World Piano camp for young children. Dr. Savvidou serves as President for the Mid-Missouri Area Music Teachers Association and as frequent adjudicator for local and State festivals and competitions. She is a Rainbow Kids Yoga Certified Teacher, holds a BM from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and graduate degrees (MM and DMA) in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
I'm honored to announce an upcoming performance of selections from my song cycle for soprano and piano "Musings of Sky" at the Mizzou New Music Initiative's Spring Composers Recital. As if the prospect of another performance of one of my works wasn't exciting enough, I've been fortunate enough to work with two very talented performers; soprano Mary Kettlewell and pianist Jenna Braaksma.
I had the privilege to work with Mary in the University of Missouri Show-Me Opera's recent production of Mozart's beloved Le Nozze di Figaro, and I am ecstatic at the opportunity to feature her voice with one of my own compositions! Her singing is incredibly sensitive and artistic; everything one could hope for in a vocalist. On the other side of the spectrum, Jenna is a performer's dream accompanist; every phrase of the music is perfectly nuanced, every note carefully placed. Together, they make an unstoppable musical duo! I encourage you to take time to read about the performers below in their bios!
Mary Kettlewell, soprano, comes from Columbia, Missouri. She is a senior currently working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of Missouri. She is a member of the University Singers and the Show-Me Opera program, and is studying voice with Professor Ann Harrell. Here at Mizzou she has performed the roles of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and Martha Sheldon in The Crucible. This past summer she was selected for the Opera in the Ozarks studio artist program in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, where she played the Fairy Godmother and the Queen in a variety show of Massenet's Le cendrillon, Rossini's La cenerentola, and Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. She also was a chorus member of Les contes d'Hoffman at the program and performed as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte in the scenes program. In past Show-Me Opera fall scenes programs, she has covered the role of Valgerd in the world premiere of Justin Pound's The Outlaw, and performed scenes as Marcelline in Fidelio, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, Nanetta in Falstaff, and Zdenke in Arabella. She has also been a member of the chorus in scenes from La cenerentola, Così fan tutte, The Rake's Progress, Pagliacci, Die Fledermaus, and La jolie parfumeuse, among other works. She has performed musical theatre roles such as Lily Vanessi in Kiss Me Kate, Annie in Annie Get Your Gun, and Rose in Bye Bye Birdie. Mary is currently a scholarship singer at Missouri United Methodist Church as well as an alumni member of the Iota Lambda chapter of the music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota. This summer she will be attending Opera NEO in San Diego, California as a studio artist and will perform in Mozart's Don Giovanni and Purcell's The Fairy Queen.
Jenna Braaksma, collaborative pianist, is a currently pursuing a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy at the University of Missouri. She serves as the accompanist for the premiere choral ensemble, the University Singers, as well as the Choral Union Community Choir, both under the direction of Dr. R. Paul Crabb. Ms. Braaksma maintains an active teaching schedule through her involvement in group and private instruction. She teaches group piano courses for undergraduate music majors, elective classes for non-majors, children’s group music classes for the MU Experiencing Piano program, and private lessons through the MU Community Music Program. Ms. Braaksma performs frequently by collaborating with many student musicians, and has recently appeared as a collaborator and chamber musician with graduate and undergraduate students in recitals and competitions such as Missouri NATS, Iowa NATS, MMTA Strings and Voice Competition, and the NAFTZGER Young Artists Auditions. Ms. Braaksma works as a choral accompanist at the Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, Missouri, and works as the general manager for the Odyssey Chamber Music Series. Her past responsibilities as a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri included teaching group piano classes and applied piano lessons, as well as accompanying for the Hitt Street Harmony vocal jazz choir and MU’s Show-Me Opera. Ms. Braaksma was selected as a section leader and substitute rehearsal accompanist for the University Singers. In May of 2014 she performed in Austria and Hungary with the choir. Following graduation, Jenna looks forward to performing in Shangong, China.
While completing her Bachelor of Music degree at Iowa State University Ms. Braaksma was highly active in the choral music program. As an accompanist she worked closely with Dr. James Rodde and Kathleen Rodde. Ms. Braaksma served as the accompanist for the Cantamus and Lyrica Women’s choirs, and was a member of Cantamus and the Iowa State Singers. With these two choirs she performed at the 2010 ACDA Convention in Minneapolis, MN, the 2011 NCCO Convention in Ft. Collins, CO, and toured South Korea in the summer of 2011. Ms. Braaksma also accompanied for the Ames Chamber Artists community choir from 2009 to 2011.
Ms. Braaksma holds a a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Missouri, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Iowa State University. Her teachers include Dr. William David, Dr. Janice Wenger, and Dr. Paola Savvidou.
I'm humbled to announce that I've been commissioned to write a piece for the stunning vocal ensemble Vox Nova. I'm so excited that I get to write for such consummate musicians, and I am looking forward to working with them! You can read more about the ensemble and its members below and on their website.
Vox Nova (founded 2014) is a vocal chamber choral group based in Columbia, Missouri. The musicians in the ensemble are established music educators, conductors, and professional vocalists. Many of the members perform with other professional choirs, prominent music festivals, and chamber opera companies, both locally and across the United States. Vox Nova is committed to choral excellence and to spreading choral music to listening audiences. In its upcoming seasons, Vox Nova will be collaborating with native Columbia chamber ensembles and composers.
I have some more exciting news to share! I am very humbled to announce that I will be writing a piece for the new music ensemble Deviant Septet. I have also been commissioned to write a viola sonata by my dear friend Tyler Hannsz. Tyler and I have played in ensembles together since high school. He is a very talented performer and musican, and I am looking forward to writing for him! I have also been commissioned by another close friend of mine, Alyssa Aubuchon, to write a piece for the Chancellor's String Quartet at Truman University. Alyssa and I have also played in ensembles together since high school, and we shared many wonderful experiences together in the Youth Symphony of Kansas City. I cannot speak highly enough of Alyssa as a musician, not to mention as a performer. She is a phenomenal cellist, and I am beyond lucky to be able to write something for her and her colleagues. Please read more about these incredible musicians below! (More info coming soon...)
Deviant Septet has been hailed as an “exciting” (New York Times), “stylish new ensemble” (New York Magazine). “Superb” (Washington Post), “exceedingly fun” and “led by new music veterans” (Time Out New York), “lively and accomplished” (Classical TV: The Drift) and “boisterously entertaining” (Lucid Culture). WNYC called it “a brand new ensemble with a high concept... made up of top classical and avant garde musicians”, and ran a feature on its premiere concert in May 2011. Deviant Septet’s commission of David Liptak’s “Focusing” received a 2013 Serge Koussevitzky Foundation commissioning grant. Deviant Septet’s members are Bill Kalinkos (clarinet, co-founder), Mike Gurfield (trumpet, co-founder), Courtney Orlando (violin), Brad Balliett (bassoon), Doug Balliett (double bass), David Nelson (trombone), and Jared Soldiviero (percussion). In addition to the Septet, players perform with various contemporary groups like Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble Signal, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble ACJW, Wordless Music Orchestra, and Talea Ensemble, and they collaborate with artists such as The National, David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens, The Dirty Projectors, Tyondai Braxton, St. Vincent, and John Zorn in addition to many others.
The mission of Deviant Septet is to fulfill the vision Igor Stravinsky had for his L’histoire du Soldat ensemble. Stravinsky, so enamored by the unusual combination of instruments — the soprano and bass voice of every instrument family: violin and bass, clarinet and bassoon, trumpet and trombone, and percussion — thought that others would follow his lead, and that this unusual blend of musicians would travel the world playing the music of many composers. The quirkiness of the ensemble poses unique challenges to a composer, and while Stravinsky’s contemporaries were seemingly not up to the task, it is the goal of Deviant Septet to bring this idea to life by creating a repertoire for this distinctive ensemble. 21st Century composers jump at the chance to solve Stravinsky’s riddles, and Deviant Septet is unique among the world’s new music collectives, as it is the only ensemble consisting solely of this instrumentation.
ABOUT THE COMPOSER
Hans Bridger Heruth is an award winning composer pursuing a degree in musical composition and vocal performance at the University of Missouri, Columbia. His works have been performed by various ensembles, both educational and professional. In addition to composing, Heruth is an accomplished pianist, violinist, singer, and conductor.