From the Great Lakes to the Wild West
Works by American composers Libby Larsen,
Z. Randall Stroope, and Gwyneth Walker
with special guests
Penn High School Viva Voce
Andrew Nemeth, conductor
Sunday, May 21, 2022
Church of Our Lady of Loretto
Saint Mary’s College
Gwyneth Walker – Composer
Libby Larsen – Composer
Z. Randall Stroope – Composer
Gwyneth Walker’s new work, The Great Lakes, is a musical journey across the magnificent 5 lakes bordering the Eastern US and Canada. Texts by American and Canadian poets make up the cantata’s lyrics. The journey moves from East (Lake Ontario) to West (Lake Superior), stopping to explore the unique character of each lake en route. Libby Larsen’s The Settling Years is a 3-part collection based on poetry by American pioneers. The texts are full of a kind of raw energy, swashbuckling attitude, and profundity of heart and commitment characteristic of those settlers west of the Hudson. Z. Randall Stroope’s Northwest Passage is a set of 3 “poetic landscapes” that reflect on 3 elements of the great Northwest of the United States—rivers, mountains, and prairies—each distinct, but part of one vast expanse.
Larsen’s piece features and accompaniment woodwind quintet and piano. Walker’s piece is originally composed for large orchestra, but she has transcribed it for winds, piano and percussion for this concert. Stroope’s piece is for woodwind quintet and string quintet, but he has transcribed the string quintet parts for piano for this concert, which will feature the talented woodwind players of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.
The excellent advanced chamber choir from Penn High School, Viva Voce, will join us for several of these works. Their conductor, Andrew Nemeth, is a member of the South Bend Chamber Singers. We look forward to this collaboration with other members of our greater South Bend musical community.
Widely performed throughout the country, the music of American composer Gwyneth Walker is beloved by performers and audiences alike for its energy, beauty, reverence, drama, and humor. Dr. Gwyneth Walker (b. 1947) is a graduate of Brown University and the Hartt School of Music. She holds B.A., M.M. and D.M.A. degrees in Music Composition. A former faculty member of the Oberlin College Conservatory, she resigned from academic employment in 1982 in order to pursue a career as a full-time composer. For nearly 30 years, she lived on a dairy farm in Braintree, Vermont before returning to live in her childhood hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut.
A composer since age two, Gwyneth Walker has always placed great value on writing in a broad array of genres. More than 400 commissioned works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo instruments, chorus, and solo voice have been created—all arising from the impetus of performers and collaboration with musicians. Over the decades, she has traveled throughout North America to attend performances of her works and to meet her musician colleagues.
Gwyneth Walker is a proud resident of New England. She was the recipient of the 2000 “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Vermont Arts Council and the 2018 “Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award” from Choral Arts New England. In 2020, her alma mater, the Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford, presented her with the Hartt Alumni Award.
Walker’s catalog includes musical works of many sorts: arrangements of traditional folk songs; original music in both vocal and instrumental genres inspired by great American poetry; dramatic works that combine music with readings, acting, and movement; works for student performers of all ages; and large-scale pieces for professional players and ensembles.
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Libby Larsen (b. 1950, Wilmington, Delaware) is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has composed over 500 works including orchestra, opera, vocal and chamber music, symphonic winds and band. Her work is widely recorded.
An advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum. Grammy Award winner and former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony. As Artistic Director of the John Duffy Institute for New Opera (2014-2020 ), she guides a faculty of practicing professional artists in nurturing and production of new opera by American Composers. Larsen’s 2017 biography, Libby Larsen: Composing an American Life, Denise Von Glahn, author, is available from the University Illinois Press.
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Randall has his own publishing entity (www.zrstroope.com) along with various copyists and a chief marketing assistant. He has written commissions for orchestras, soloists, choral ensembles, and works for combined forces. Recent commissions include works for Raffles Singers (Singapore), Michigan Choral Conductors Consortium, Arlington Master Chorale, West Point Military Academy, Müller Chamber Choir (Taiwan), among others. Some of his works also published by Oxford University Press, Alliance Music Publications (Houston), Carl Fischer, Santa Barbara Music Press (California), Colla Voce (Indiana) and others. His shorter choral works — best known of which are Conversion of Saul, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Amor de mi alma, Christi Mutter, We Behold Once Again the Stars, Go Lovely Rose, The Pasture, Revelation, Homeland, I Am Not Yours, Caritas et Amor, Song to the Moon, Inscription of Hope and In Paradisum — have sold four million copies. His choral cycle — Four Sonnets of Garcilaso (which contains Amor de mi alma) is also one of his most performed works. Extended works include Hodie! (This Day) for mixed chorus, brass/organ/percussion, Carmina Pax (a 30′ work premiered in 2018), for mixed chorus, orchestra, boy soloist, and baritone, American Rhapsody American Rhapsody for mixed chorus and brass quintet or strings, and his solo song cycle, Love’s Waning Seasons Love’s Waning Seasons. He has published many instrumental works, including Fanfare (brass/percussion/organ) and Amor de mi alma (wind ensemble). Randall is particularly drawn to the poetry of Sara Teasdale, George Herbert, Rainer Maria Rilke, James Agee and Robert Frost. Recordings of his works can be heard through Spotify, YouTube and his website (www.zrstroope.com).
Randall was a Professor of Music at three different universities (an Endowed Professor at two of them) – Rowan University (New Jersey), Oklahoma State University and the University of Nebraska. He has conducted 25 international choral tours and performed twice at the ACDA National Convention. He now guest conducts and composes full time from his studio in Florida and in New Mexico.
Randall completed a Master of Music (Voice Performance) degree at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Doctor of Musical Arts (Choral Conducting) degree at Arizona State University. He did post graduate work with Margaret Hillis, Chorus Master of the Chicago Symphony. As a recipient of the Australian-American Fulbright, he has also done work in western Australia. He and his wife, Cheryl, love to travel and spend time with family.
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