We are happy to be commisioning 5 wonderful compositions during 2018-2019, in the frame of our multi-annual project: Upgrade, Connect, Reach out: Raising awareness for collective singing. The following pieces are written by inspiring composers which we wholeheartedly endorse and witness their proffesionalism, personal quality and musical spark. We encourage you to have a look below, add works to your concert programmes and initiate further collaborations.
Born in London, 1951, Cecilia McDowall has won many awards, been short-listed eight times for the British Composer Awards and in 2014 won the Choral category of the British Composer Awards for her haunting work, Night Flight, which celebrates the pioneering flight of the American aviatrix, Harriet Quimby, across the English Channel. McDowall’s distinctive style speaks directly to listeners, instrumentalists and singers alike. Her most characteristic works fuse fluent melodic lines with occasional dissonant harmonies and rhythmic exuberance. Her music has been commissioned and performed by leading choirs, including the BBC Singers, The Sixteen, Oxford and Cambridge choirs, ensembles, and at festivals worldwide.
Recent important commissions include When time is broke (Three Shakespeare Songs) for the BBC Singers and Adoro te devote for Westminster Cathedral Choir, London. Three Latin Motets were recorded by the renowned American choir, Phoenix Chorale, conductor, Charles Bruffy; this Chandos recording, Spotless Rose, won a Grammy award and was nominated for Best Classical Album. The National Children’s Choir of Great Britain commissioned a work focusing on ‘children in conflict’, called Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo. This cantata is based on the real-life escape of Nujeen Mustafa (who is wheelchair-bound) and her sister from war-torn Aleppo; it tells of their harrowing journey across 3,500 miles, through seven countries, eventually arriving in Germany with relief and great gratitude.
In May Wimbledon Choral Society and the Philharmonia Orchestra premiere McDowall’s large-scale choral work, the Da Vinci Requiem, to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death. The work receives its first performance on 7 May in the Royal Festival Hall, London. McDowall’s works are regularly broadcast on BBC Radio and readily available on CD. In 2013 Cecilia McDowall received an Honorary Doctorate from Portsmouth University and in 2017 McDowall was selected for an Honorary Fellow award by the Royal School of Church Music. In 2020 the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, will release a CD of her choral music on the Hyperion label.
‘ Brightest Star ‘
The Insitut français d’Art choral – IFAC and the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat, with the support of SACEM commisioned a piece from Cecilia McDowal (UK) for the finals of the 9th International competition for young conductors on October 20th 2019. The piece ‘Brightest Star’ therefore presents difficulties for the competitors. Cecilia is interested in the International Red Cross and for this composition she particularly looked at a text about the Channel Islands, whose inhabitants in 1944 were on the verge of starvation. The Bailiff of Guernsey appealed to the Red Cross for food parcels to help the islanders, and these arrived on 27th and 31st December 1944. Sean Street wrote a text from quotes from Sir Alexander Coutanche, Bailiff of Jersey and included the Red Cross’ motto ‘with humanity towards peace’.
This piece with an English text and a duration of 3-5 minutes wants to be a thank-you message for humanitarian aid, shows how these organization were important during World War II and how they are still important today.
The score will be published by Oxford University Press in summer 2019. Click here to see a teaser! of ‘Brightest Star’!
David Azurza Aramburu was born in Tolosa, Gipuzkoa in 1968. He has a degree in Fine Arts (Restoration). He begins singing as a tenor to continue studying as a countertenor with Isabel Alvarez (S.Sebastián). He studies singing in the Royal Conservatory of Madrid where he finishes with honors in the singing speciality and gets the extraordinary prize Lucrecia Arana. He is a member of several vocal groups and he has a large experience like solo singer in different contemporary operas, and symphonic repertoire. He conducts children’s and youth choirs from 1989. He is a teacher for choral vocal technique and singing, lecturer and article writer about voice in many stages and activities organized by Conservatories, Universities, Choral Federations and choral groups all over Spain as well as abroad (Argentina, France, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Europa Cantat…)
Self-educated composer, his activity is exclusively in the choral world. He has received several prizes in different national composition contests. In his catalogue you can find more than 130 works for children’s, youth and adult’s choirs of all types: from didactic pieces to pieces for professional vocal groups, sacred and profane works, a capella or accompanied with instruments. Among others, three choral tales for children’s chorus and instrumental ensemble, one chamber opera for children’s chorus, soloists and instrumental quintet and a sacred cantata for SATB and piano or organ. His work is edited at Oihu Hau editions. He has received assignments from vocal groups, choirs, contests and choral meetings from all over the world.
‘ It’s time ‘
This work was commisioned by the European Choral Association – Europa Cantat for the international festival Youth Choirs in Movement, edition 2019 taking place in Bonn, Germany between 26th and 30th of June 2019. Click here to see a teaser of ‘It’s time’.
Maja Linderoth is a Swedish composer currently based in Oslo, Norway. She started to study composition with Per Magnusson in Stockholm in 2011 after several years of classical piano studies and music theory studies at the municipal schools of music in Norberg and Fagersta. She continued with studies at Gotland School of Music Composition 2012-2014 and in 2018 she received a Bachelor’s degree in Composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, where she studied with Eivind Buene, Maja S.K. Ratkje, Trond Reinholdtsen, Henrik Hellstenius and Kaija Saariaho among others. The last semester of her bachelor education was spent as an Erasmus+ exchange student at Universität der Künste in Berlin, Germany, where she studied with Daniel Ott.
Linderoth also studied, with support from The Ulysses Network in 2018, at both IRCAM ManiFeste – Académie in Paris, France, and at the workshop Composition, Alternative Performance and Performance Art at Snape Maltings, United Kingdom. She has collaborated with several renowned ensembles including Karlsson-Holmertz, Faint Noise, the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir, Ensemble Aksiom and the Cikada ensemble. Her music has been performed in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Ireland and in the USA.
‘ Connected ‘
The text is based upon two quotes, found in TV documentaries, from one now living American woman and one now living Japanese woman. The piece dwells upon how we constantly want to be available and want to communicate through several virtual channels. But do we meet more by doing so? In this constant stream, there is also a distraction, a “fix” that fills a need to escape. An escape from the sudden difficulty of just being. Also the title of the piece illustrates the duality of the constant strive to communicate: Connected; to be united, linked together, but also to be “online” on a screen. The piece was originally written for a singer trio and is here composed for and performed by a choir for the first time.Click here to see a teaser of ‘Connected’.
Pärt Uusberg is a young Estonian composer and choral conductor. He graduated as a conductor from the class of Heli Jürgenson at the Tallinn Georg Ots Music School in 2009. In 2014 he received a Master`s degree in composition with Tõnu Kõrvits and in 2018 a Master`s degree in choir conducting with Tõnu Kaljuste at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. In 2008 Pärt created his own chamber choir Head Ööd, Vend which has become known for beautiful church concerts as well as successful performances at choral competitions. Pärt has also been working with the Estonian Youth Mixed Choir, conducted a programme with Estonian National Male Choir and was an atelier conductor in a festival Europa Cantat 2018 in Tallinn.
‘ Nightingales ‘
He chose the poem ‘Nightingales’, written by Robert Bridges serves as an inspiration for this piece. It was Pärt‘s utmost pleasure to write music to the text:
‘ BEAUTIFUL must be the mountains whence ye come; And bright in the fruitful valleys the stremas, wherefrom; Ye learn your song: Where are those starry woods? O might I wander there; Among the flowers, which in that heavenly air; Bloom the year long! (…)’ – extract from the poem.
As a composer he has mostly written choral music, but also chamber, orchestra and film music. Uusberg`s music has been recorded to several CDs. Click here to see a teaser of ‘Nightingales’.
Seán Doherty was introduced to music through the Irish fiddle tradition of his hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland. He read music at St John’s College, Cambridge, after which he completed a PhD in musicology at Trinity College Dublin. He is now an assistant professor of music in Dublin City University, where he lectures in music history, harmony and counterpoint, and contemporary composition. With his colleague, the choral conductor Dr Róisín Blunnie, he leads DCU’s new MA in Choral Studies, the first course of its kind in Ireland. Seán is active as a choral singer, singing with the internationally acclaimed chamber choir New Dublin Voices, conducted by Bernie Sherlock.
‘I am the world’
To celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the World Youth Choir Seán chose to set the text of ‘I am the World‘ by Irish poet Dora Sigerson Shorter (1866–1918). The choice of poem hopes to capture the spirit of the World Youth Choir through its joyful and exuberant celebration of the universal and eternal nature of song. This work, and other works by the composer, are published by Cailíno Music Publishers (www.cailino.com). Click here to see a teaser of ‘I am the World’.