Commissions

The Orange County Women’s Chorus creates and performs outstanding choral literature. We are committed to adding new works to the treble repertoire through commissioning.

Water Women - Joan Szymko

Water Women - premiered April 1, 2017

Commission: Water Women

Text: “Water Women” from Womanpriest: A Personal Odyssey by Alla Renee Bozarth

Commission underwriters: Laurie Soderberg, Kristen Soderberg, and Bethany Soderberg Poe in memory of Michael E. Soderberg

Joan Szymko is a composer and conductor from the Pacific Northwest. With a catalog of over 100 published choral works, her music is performed by ensembles across North America and abroad. The OCWC has performed her works in the past, including Ave Maria in December 2015. Joan, like the OCWC, is committed to bringing the choral art to her community. She says, “I find great solace in weekly choral rehearsals. There, people from all walks of life come together to surrender themselves to the whole, they come for communion, hoping to perfect a unified sound and for the promise of a deeply exhilarating musical experience. It can be transformative. It is healing.”

Words are very important to us, and Joan shares that passion for language. She says, “I employ words that delight, confront, or inspire me; make me think, make me feel.” When asked to comment on her experience of composing this work, Joan wrote, “Eliza and I agreed on the text of this commissioned work in the spring of 2016, well in advance of the conclusion to the political season. As I finished composing Water Women in November in the weeks immediately following the presidential election, giving breath and life to Alla Bozarth’s words became a cathartic experience. The poet upends the notion that women with a ‘place at the table’ best step carefully in order to protect their position: ‘We do not want to rock the boat,’ she says, ‘mistaking our new poise for something safe.’ We are not safe. We are on stormy seas the likes of which the human race has never seen. As an artist, and as a woman, I am of the belief that any hope for a sustainable future on this planet is dependent not only on women having a real place ‘on board,’ but on women taking over the helm.

“Water Women‘s opening theme suggests a ‘rocking’ feeling – not in a soothing way, as in rocking the cradle, but angular,and unsettled. Throughout, piano accompaniment supplies a watery undercurrent supporting women’s voices that alternate between powerful unison, harmonized rhythmic unison and coordinated polyphony. The watery journey culminates in a somewhat altered version of the opening theme and a final unison statement of women’s ‘supernatural’ powers.”

We Can Sing That! - Kirke Mechem

We Can Sing That! - premiered December 8, 2012

Commission: We Can Sing That!

Text: “We Can Sing That!” by Kirke Mechem

Kirke Mechem is a prolific composer with a catalogue of over 250 works. He enjoys an international presence, as ASCAP recently registered concert performances of his music in 42 countries. Born and raised in Kansas and educated at Stanford and Harvard Universities, Mechem conducted and taught at Stanford, and served as composer-in-residence for several years at the University of San Francisco. Mechem also lived in Europe, spending three years in Vienna, where he came to the attention of Josef Krips, who later championed the composer’s symphonies as conductor of the San Francisco Symphony. He was guest of honor at the 1990 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow and was invited back for an all-Mechem symphonic concert by the USSR Radio-Television Orchestra in 1991.

He has been honored and recognized for his contributions by the United Nations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Gal-lery; the American Choral Directors’ Association, and the Music Educators’ National Conference, and was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the National Opera Association. In 2012 the University of Kansas awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts.

Mechem’s compositions cover almost every genre, but vocal music is the core of his work. His three-act opera, Tartuffe, has been performed nearly 400 times in six countries. His extensive choral works have garnered him the title of “dean of American choral composers.”

The premiere of Mechem’s large-scale dramatic opera based on American abolitionist John Brown was commissioned to celebrate Lyric Opera Kansas City’s 50th anniversary. Songs of the Slave — a suite for bass-baritone, soprano, chorus and orchestra from the opera John Brown — has been performed over 80 times. His comic opera, The Rivals (an American update of Sheridan’s classic play by the same title), was premiered in 2011 by Sky-light Opera in Milwaukee. Mechem recently completed an opera based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Orange County Women’s Chorus has performed multiple works by Kirke Mechem, including his song cycle The Winged Joy and his choral-orchestral suite Songs of the Slave. Singers from the OCWC made their Carnegie Hall debut in June 2017 under the baton of Eliza Rubenstein conducting Songs of the Slave.

When Music Sounds - Sharon Farber

When Music Sounds - premiered May 21, 2011

Commission: When Music Sounds

Text: “When Music Sounds” by Walter De La Mare

Commission underwriters: Kathy Baldasari and Janet Bratton, in memory of their mother, Patsy Bratton

Award winning composer Sharon Farber, originally from Israel, has received critical acclaim as a composer in the concert world as well as that of film and TV. She brings to her music influences from her Middle Eastern heritage as well as her extensive knowledge of Classical and Western music.

Sharon began her musical career at the age of seven, as a classical pianist. After graduating from Thelma-Yelin High School for the Arts, she served in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and later worked as a theater composer and musical director in Israel. She won the first prize in Colors in Dance in 1992 for her music for choreography. In 1994, she moved to Boston upon receiving a scholarship from Berklee College of Music. During her studies, she won first prize in the yearly Professional Writing Division Concert with her first string quartet. After graduating Summa Cum Laude in 1997 (majoring in both Classical Composition and Film Scoring) she moved to Los Angeles to begin her professional career. Ms. Farber was the recipient of the prestigious Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Internship in Film Scoring, as well as the Mentorship program of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, on which she currently serves as a board member.

Ms. Farber has been writing concert and choir music in parallel to her film-scoring career, and has many national and international premieres and performances to her credit. To name a few: The Third Mother/Mothers’ Lament, in memory of slain reporter Daniel Pearl, was world premiered by the distinguished Los Angeles Master Chorale under the direction of Maestro Grant Gershon, and it won her the first prize in the Cincinnati Camerata Composition Competition (published by Roger Dean). ASHKINA, for mixed choir, chamber ensemble, and ethnic instruments, Translucent Rocks, premiered by the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, My Beloved for women’s choir and chamber ensemble, premiered by The Ithaca College Women’s choir, To Always Remember for soprano and chamber ensemble, and many more. Commissions include the Laguna Beach Music Festival, Pacific Serenade Ensemble, Culver City Symphony Orchestra, The Jewish Symphony Orchestra, The International String Quartet of the Yucatan Peninsula, and iPalpiti Artists International. Her latest acclaimed work, a commission by the Glendale Philharmonic Orchestra, Bestemming-Concerto for Cello, Orchestra, and Narrator, is being scheduled for performances internationally.

In the film and TV industry, Sharon has been working with such prestigious companies as NBC, CBS, Showtime, and the WB as well as scoring feature films. She worked with famed composer Shirley Walker on the WB TV series, “Batman and Superman,” and won a Telly Award for best score for the docudrama series California 2000. Her orchestral score for the film When Nietzsche Wept was released commercially. Sharon scored the powerful documentary Honor Diaries, as well as the features The Dove Flyer and Children of the Fall. She is currently working on a slate of films for the Aegis film group, among other projects.

Tribute - Dale Trumbore

Tribute - premiered May 22, 2010

Commission: Tribute

Text: Annie Finch’s tribute to Emily Dickinson

Dale Trumbore (b. 1987) has been called “a rising star among modern choral composers” (AXS), and her music has been praised for its “soaring melodies and beguiling harmonies” (The New York Times).

Trumbore’s compositions have been commissioned and performed widely in the United States and internationally by ensembles including the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), Inscape Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Modesto Symphony Orchestra, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, and VocalEssence. She has served as Composer in Residence for Nova Vocal Ensemble and as Artist in Residence at Bush Creek Foundation for the Arts, Copland House, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico.

Trumbore is a native of Chatham, New Jersey; she decided to stay in Los Angeles after completing her master’s degree in Music Composition from the University of Southern California, where she studied with Donald Crockett and Morten Lauridsen. She graduated from the University of Maryland with degrees in Music Composition and English Language and Literature.

Oh Stars, from the Abyss: a Letter from Qiu Jin - Angel Lam

Oh Stars, from the Abyss: a Letter from Qiu Jin - premiered March 30, 2008

Commission: Oh Stars, from the Abyss: a Letter from Qiu Jin

Text: a letter from Qiu Jin, who was executed in 1907 at age 32 in an unsuccessful revolutionary revolt against the Qing imperial government

Angel Lam has received three Carnegie Hall commissions, including a cello concerto performed by solo cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and commissioned by Carnegie Hall in the festival “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices.” Another composition of hers was featured in the Silk Road Ensemble album, “Off the Map” and nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Crossover Classical Album. Her music commissions include performances by multiple GRAMMY-nominated Yale Cellists directed by Aldo Parisot, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Symphony Orchestra, Yale Philharmonia, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Greenwich Village Orchestra, NYU Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Northwest Symphony, Oak Park and River Forest Symphony Orchestra, UCI Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, and the Pacific Music Festival, among others.

Lam received her Doctorate degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University, and is the recipient of a Henry and Lucy Moses full scholarship Artist Diploma from Yale University. She grew up in Hong Kong and Huntington Beach, and currently resides in New York.

To My Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship - Ruth Huber

To My Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship - premiered June 2, 2007

Commission: To My Excellent Lucasia, on our Friendship

Text: Katherine Phillips (1632 – 1664)

Ruth Huber has a rich musical background as a composer, singer/songwriter and pianist. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in piano from the University of Maryland, a Master’s in piano pedagogy from the University of Texas at Austin, and a second Master’s in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Her compositions have won awards from The San Francisco Art Song Festival, the San Francisco Conservatory Choral Music Competition, the California branch of the American Choral Directors’ Association, the Austin Music Umbrella Songwriters’ Competition and the Kerrville Folk Festival. She has been instrumental in founding Tapestry (the Austin Women’s Chorus) and the Rainbow Women’s Chorus of San Jose, which she currently serves as Co-director and Composer-in-Residence. Her choral music is published by Yelton Rhodes Music, and she has received commissions from choral groups around the country. She has also composed music for solo and duo piano, clarinet, and instrumental ensembles. She lives in San Jose, California, where she teaches piano and co-directs the Rainbow Women’s Chorus.

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