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Bulletin Winter 2014

For Sametz, a new and difficult commission

Steven Sametz, who has earned international acclaim as a composer and a conductor, has received the 10th Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize, which is presented by the University of Connecticut.

He will use the $25,000 award to compose a new work to be premiered in Connecticut in 2015 and reprised at Lehigh.

The proposed project, tentatively titled “A Child’s Requiem,” is a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings of December 2012, says Sametz, who is a native of Westport, Conn. The work will be scored for children’s choir, mixed choir and orchestra.

“I am currently working with schools to develop a libretto drawn from children’s responses to tragedy and loss,” Sametz says. “There has been a growing movement of responses from area schools and beyond, and it may be that we start to get national responses from teachers, parents and their children. The more responses we get, the richer the potential of the project becomes.”

Sametz, who has earned increasing renown in recent years as both composer and conductor, is the Ronald J. Ulrich Professor of Music and director of Lehigh University Choral Arts. Choral Arts consists of Choral Union, Dolce, the Glee Club and the select University Choir, which has toured on several continents. Sametz also serves as artistic director for the elite a cappella ensemble, The Princeton Singers, and is the founding director of The Lehigh University Choral Composers Forum, a summer course of study designed to mentor emerging choral composers.

In addition to the Connecticut premiere of “A Child’s Requiem,” Sametz says he also plans to reprise the new work at Lehigh, and to develop an exhibition of artwork from young children expressive of their thoughts on loss, which will be displayed at the time of the performances.

The competition, organized by the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts, is an international award that supports and promotes composers and the performance of their new musical works. Every second year, entrants are asked to compose a piece for a specific area of the musical arts, chosen by the faculty of the UConn music department, such as jazz ensemble, choir, opera, wind ensemble or chamber ensemble.

This year’s prize is for chorus and orchestra, and entries were received from seven nations and 17 states.

Story by Rob Nichols

Posted on Tuesday, February 04, 2014

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