Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Joan Szymko- 2010 ACDA Brock Commission Composer

ACDA announces their selection of Joan Szymko as the 2010 Brock Commission Composer

The following is from (plus I have a comment at the bottom)

The American Choral Directors Association has selected Joan Szymko as the composer of the 2010 Raymond W. Brock Commission. The Raymond W. Brock Memorial Choral Series was established in 1991 to honor the life and contributions of Raymond W. Brock, who served as Administrative Assistant for ACDA from 1987 until his untimely death in 1991.

Annually, the ACDA Executive Committee will commission a recognized composer to write a choral composition in an effort to perpetuate quality choral repertoire. The funding for this annual commission comes from the Raymond W. Brock Memorial Endowment which has been established by ACDA members, friends, and supporters of the choral art.

About the Composer
Joan Szymko has over 25 years of experience as a choral conductor, composer, teacher and performer in the Pacific Northwest. She led the Seattle Women's Ensemble for ten years and in the fall of 1993 became the artistic director of the 100+ voices of Aurora Chorus – women in harmony for peace. Szymko founded and directed Viriditas, a select women's chamber ensemble from 1994-2001. Szymko has been a resident composer with Do Jump! since 1995, performing her music with the company at their home theater in Portland, OR and on tour, including runs on Broadway (2000), the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (2001,2007) and at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles (2001).

From Paul: What a great choice! Joan has been writing very creative choral music in a unique personal voice for years. She has never boxed herself in musically, a trait she shares with another Pacific Northwest composer, Stephen Hatfield.

When I founded and directed Vox Caelestis, a professional women's chamber choir in Chicago, we did a number of Joan's pieces. I had always hoped she could come visit us at a concert, but the trip from the Pacific Northwest was always a deal-breaker. But.... her parents live nearby! Once I found this out from Joan via e-mail, I invited them to be our special guests and come hear a concert we were doing which included Joan's incredibly fun The Rose, a setting of Gertrude Steins' famous lil' poetic fragment "...a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose" (music and recording at Joan set it for SSAA and accordion. When I showed the piece to Vox at our first rehearsal for that concert they all laughed- accordion (and "a rose is a rose is arose is a rose")?! But it really is a fun piece and a little trickier in the voices than you might guess at first. The big chore was to find an accordionist who could read music well and follow with me and the choir. Of course Chicago (and Milwaukee) are still full of accordion players (though I am sure their numbers are in decline) but so many of them play only popular music by ear, work solo, etc. We did finally find a very talented women who read well and did a great job on the piece-- and truly The Rose was a big hit with the audience. Joan's delightfully gracious parents were there and loved it all. We even had them stand and take a bow for raising such a talented and wonderful daughter. Congratulations on ACDA's announcement, Joan!

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