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5th Anniversary Season Announced: 5 Commissions by Southern California Composers and more Regional, National, and World Premieres
Irvine, CA—The year 2017 marks the fifth anniversary season for Choral Arts Initiative. To celebrate this significant milestone, Choral Arts Initiative has commissioned five Southern California composers: Saunder Choi, Jeffrey Derus, Luke Flynn, David V. Montoya, and Joshua Himes. The commission by Himes will be premiered during their April 22-23, 2017 performances with the remaining four works premiering during their July 15-16, 2017 performances. In addition to premiering five commissions, long-time composer-collaborator Dale Trumbore has gifted a new composition to also be premiered in 2017 titled “Perhaps.”
As is usual for Choral Arts Initiative, additional regional, national, and world premieres by Will Todd, Kile Smith, Christina Whitten Thomas, Corey Rubin, and more will also be performed throughout their 5th Anniversary Season.
The composers were tasked with minimal instruction as part of the commission. Artistic Director, Brandon Elliott, explained, “the composers were only given an adjective or two to describe the theme of the program in which their piece would be premiered. The adjective I gave them was ‘light’ and I explained to them that this season also highlights our 5th anniversary as an organization. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. Viewing a brand new composition for the first time is the most exciting part of the commissioning process.”
About the Commissions:
Perhaps by Dale Trumbore (b. 1987)
Presented as a gift to Founder & Artistic Director Brandon Elliott, the text for this new piece was taken from his April 2016 program note—unbeknownst to him. Trumbore adds: “Though Brandon's words weren't originally intended to be set to music, I thought they captured the essence of what Choral Arts Initiative does: 'Perhaps we may live an answer or illuminate a story.' This is why I love collaborating with Choral Arts Initiative, be it on a new piece, an old piece, or an entire album; this ensemble is committed to 'music that can teach and inspire,' and they sing it with such passion. I hope this anniversary is the first of many major milestones for Choral Arts Initiative!”
Title TBD by Saunder Choi (b. 1988)
Saunder, who has not finalized a title, still has a poignant concept for the commission: “For my piece, I have decided to reflect on my roots and focus on the concept of light through the lens of darkness. I had already been living in Boston at the time when typhoon Haiyan happened in the Philippines. Though my family lived in Manila and was ultimately unaffected, the distraught that this tragedy brought to my countrymen left me brokenhearted.” When asked about writing for Choral Arts Initiative in particular, he stated, "The Choral Arts Initiative is an excellent choir, with a full, embodied musical sound and a focus on new music and living composers. “I highly admire their hard work and contribution to the choral ecosystem, especially in Southern California. I am excited to work with CAI and believe in Brandon's artistry and vision for the group-- CAI has accomplished so much in its first 5 years, and I am honored to be part of it.”
My Heart is a Compass by Jeffrey Derus (b. 1990)
Derus is a founding Choral Artist and Board Member of Choral Arts Initiative and, was considered the perfect fit to write for this special milestone. Derus adds, “I have a personal connection to all we have accomplished. CAI is where I have experienced world-class performance, education and philanthropy. Witnessing so many wonderful collaborations throughout the years as a choral artist, I could not be more thrilled to be on the composer side for this coming season.” In addition to writing a new work, Derus also commissioned poet Courtney Prather: “Given the concert’s theme, involving guidance and seeking light, Prather and I collaborated on how we wanted to represent that through our text and music.” The first stanza of this commissioned poem reads: My heart is a compass / Guiding me to light / When darkness chases the fading day / My heart, a star in the night.
White Moon by Luke Flynn (b. 1988)
Equally at home in the film music and choral music world, Flynn is quickly establishing himself in Los Angeles as a gifted composer. When asked to discuss his commission with Choral Arts Initiative: “Everything about this commission is just so exciting for me. Because I have only lived in Los Angeles for a short period of time, it really is a wonderful way for me to meet new people and musicians within the community. Also, the timing and the theme of the commission coincide perfectly with the birth of my and my wife's first child, as well as many things happening in our lives at the moment. Not to give away too much information yet, but you can definitely expect that connection to be a big part of my composition.”
Peace is Every Step by David V. Montoya (b. 1968)
When Montoya learned that Choral Arts Initiative was already going to be using two harps for another piece on the program, he immediately decided to write a piece for choir and harp. “This will be my second work for choir and harp, also my second time setting a Thich Nhat Hanh text. I find the combination of voices and strings to be the perfect medium to convey the gentle and compassionate messages contained in his words,” he explained. When asked about writing for Choral Arts Initiative in particular, he added: “Writing for CAI will be a great joy for me. I am amazed at the work that they have been doing to further the choral art. Their tone, musicianship and musicality are the perfect environment for any composer to write in, and I am honored and humbled at the opportunity.”
Title TBD by Joshua Himes (b. 1987)
When our Artistic Director Brandon Elliott was programming for the 2017 season, he found that something was missing from the April 22-23 program. He had a particular text in mind—“I Dream A World” by Langston Hughes—and decided to approach Himes, a current Choral Artist in the ensemble. “I did something quite unique as far as commissioning goes: I approached Josh with a particular poem in mind and asked if he’d be willing to take on the task. I’m so glad he did. I think this poem is more relevant and important than ever before and while there are a few choral compositions that feature this poem, I wanted to bring another setting to life through the lens of recent events.”
More information about Choral Arts Initiative’s 5th Anniversary Season can be found on their website at www.choralartsinitiative.org. In the months to come, Choral Arts Initiative will publish in-depth previews of the commissioned works on their blog. Be sure to mark your calendar for their performances on April 22-23, 2017 and July 15-16, 2017.
About Choral Arts Initiative
Choral Arts Initiative is a non-profit 501(c)(3) choral organization made up of some of the most talented and passionate musicians in the Southern California region. Hailed as one of Orange County’s Best Choirs (CBS News, Los Angeles) and 2014 winner of the American Prize in Choral Performance, Choral Arts Initiative works in partnership with composers and the community to illuminate emerging choral music through vocal collaboration and performance and to inspire musical creativity through unique outreach and education programs. Now in their fourth season, Choral Arts Initiative has given the world premieres of eight new choral works as well as twenty-two West Coast premieres. More information about Choral Arts Initiative may be found at www.choralartsinitiative.org.
About Saunder Choi
Saunder Choi is an emerging Los Angeles-based Filipino composer who has written a wide variety of works, from contemporary classical concert music to jazz charts and popular music arrangements. His works have been performed, recorded and read by the USC Thornton Symphony, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Philippine Madrigal Singers, the Crossing Choir, L.A. Choral Lab, Peninsula Women’s Chorus, Salt Lake Choral Artists, Kalistos Chamber Orchestra and the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium Chorus. He was the commissioned composer for the 2nd Andrea Veneracion International Choral Festival. In 2014, he was awarded the 1st prize in the American Prize for Choral Composition (student division). He is a finalist for the 2012 and 2015 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He was also one of the composers selected for the 1st Young Composers Initiative call for scores by the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and received an honorable mention from the 2016-2017 Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute. He was also recently a composition fellow at the Big Sky Choral Initiative with Donald Nally and the Crossing Choir.
Born in Manila, Philippines, he holds a Bachelor of Arts major in Communication Arts degree from the De La Salle University-Manila and a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the Berklee College of Music. He completed his Master of Music in Composition at the USC Thornton School of Music, where his primary composition teachers were Ted Hearne and Donald Crockett. His works are published with Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Earthsongs. Select works are also distributed by MusicSpoke.
About Jeffrey Derus
Born in California, Jeffrey’s major compositional influences come from the stunning array of natural landscapes throughout the western coastline. Jeffrey holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Choral Music Education and Choral Conducting from California State University Fullerton. He Co-founded Choral Arts Initiative, a professional New Music Ensemble, residing in Orange County, CA and also serves on the Board of Directors. Currently, Jeffrey serves as the Choral Director at Anaheim High School. Between his other musical endeavors, he continues to write and record his choral compositions with The Afternoon Singers and Choral Arts Initiative.
About Luke Flynn
Luke Flynn (b. 1988) is a composer living in Los Angeles whose works have won or placed as a finalist in a multitude of major composition contests around the world. Most recently, the Sydney Australia Contemporary Orchestra call for scores, the South Korea Busan Maru International Composition Contest (orchestra), the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute, the CSUN Orchestra Northridge Composition Prize, the Young New Yorkers’ Chorus Composition Competition, the Ablaze Records Orchestral Masters composition contest, and the Lexington Philharmonic New Music Experiment, and many others. Flynn also works as a film music proofer for many of the world’s biggest major motion pictures, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Jungle Book, Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, and many more.
He holds a master of music composition degree from Butler University, where he studied with Michael Schelle, a bachelor’s degree in music composition from Clarke University, where he studied with Amy Dunker, and has also had the privilege of being the first-ever American student to study music composition at 鹿児島国際大学, the International University of Kagoshima in Japan, where he studied with composer Tadashi Kubo.
About Joshua Himes
From Chino Hills, CA, Joshua Himes (b. 1987) is an accomplished composer and music director. His choral music has been internationally performed and recorded by acclaimed vocal ensembles; including the all-female Norwegian choir Cantus, the Camerata Lacunensis of Spain, Sjaella of Germany, the Quintessential Vocal Ensemble from Canada, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, the Peninsula Women's Chorus and the Philippine Madrigal Singers. Beyond choral music, Himes is a freelance composer for film trailers and live theatre as well as a caretaker for troubled foster youth. He is published with Gentry Publications and Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Inc. His self-published music is exclusively distributed through MusicSpoke, an online marketplace committed to connecting directors and performers with composers.
About David V. Montoya
David V. Montoya (b. 19680) received a bachelor’s degree in music education from California State University, Los Angeles (1992) and a master of music degree from the University of Nevada, Reno (1998). He has taught in the Southern California public school system for 23 years, currently teaching at both La Habra High School and Sunny Hills High School where he teaches choir and guitar. In the 2009-2010 school year Montoya was named LHHS Teacher of the Year. As a composer Montoya’s music, including African Processional: “Jambo rafiki yangu” has been performed throughout the world by high schools, colleges, churches, and such prestigious groups as the US Air Force Singing Sergeants, El Café Chorale (Costa Rica), the Kansas City Chorale, Louisiana State University A Cappella Choir, The Philippine Chamber Singers, and the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale. His compositions range from a cappella and accompanied choral music, from the silly to the sacred, to works for solo voice, guitar, harp, piano, brass, ukulele, and even harmonica.
About Dale Trumbore
Hailed by the New York Times for her “soaring melodies and beguiling harmonies,” Dale Trumbore has been commissioned and awarded by organizations including the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), ACME, Boston New Music Initiative, Center City Opera Theater, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, The Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, Northwest Symphony Orchestra, The Singers – Minnesota Choral Artists, and VocalEssence. She has served as Composer in Residence for Nova Vocal Ensemble and Artist in Residence at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, Copland House, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and Willapa Bay AiR.
Trumbore's interest in the convergence of music and language leads her to collaborate frequently with contemporary poets. Her works for voice have been recorded by Choral Arts Northwest, The Esoterics, New York Virtuoso Singers, Six Degree Singers, and soprano Gillian Hollis. In January 2017, Choral Arts Initiative will release “How to Go On”, a new album devoted to Trumbore's choral works. Trumbore's compositions are available from Boosey & Hawkes, G. Schirmer, and MusicSpoke.
Lorraine Joy Welling