Sunday, April 20, 2014
From staff reports
PORTLAND - Twelve composers recently received awards in the 2011 Longfellow Chorus International Composers Competition, and 13 new Longfellow songs, choruses and cantatas will be premiered during the Longfellow Choral Festival Feb. 26-27 at the First Parish Church, 425 Congress St.
The winning choruses and mezzo-soprano songs will be presented at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 27.
In the chorus division, first prize was given to Christopher Kies, professor of piano, theory and composition at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. Kies won for his five-minute comic operetta, "The Musical Sufferings of John Kreisler," based on Longfellow's 1838 translation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story about a put-upon piano teacher and his musically flawed yet lovable students.
Second prize was awarded to Connecticut composer Frank Vasi for "King Witlaf's Drinking Horn," a choral work depicting a group of red wine-loving monks who take Christmas revelry a bit too far.
A number of composers received Longfellow Chorus Awards of Distinction in Choral Composition:
Lisa Vornberger Bennett of Malvern, Pa., created a tuneful and inspirational "The Builders."
Mary E. Larew of New Haven, Conn., captured the playful silliness of "Mr. Finney's Turnip," a poem popularly attributed to Longfellow, although Longfellow did not write it.
Mattie Ernst, a young composer and performer of traditional Irish music in St. Paul, Minn., contributed "The Forget-Me-Nots of the Angels," a sensitive setting of a short passage from "Evangeline" that the composer found painted on the floor of Jerabek's New Bohemian Coffeehouse in West St. Paul, Minn.
Valerie Crescenz, an elementary school music teacher and experienced choral composer from East Fallowfield, Pa., is a repeat winner this year with her harmonically lavish "The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls."
Another repeat winner, Christopher Wicks, composer and organist in Oregon's Willamette Valley, contributed a pensive "Aftermath," in which he calls for Longfellow Chorus Director Charles Kaufmann to take up his bassoon and accompany the chorus.
Tania Mandzy, mezzo-soprano, Jesse Feinberg, pianist, and Kaufmann will present all of this year's winning Longfellow solo songs:
George Chave, professor of theory and composition at the University of Texas-Arlington, will take home the Longfellow Chorus Prize in Solo Song Composition with a setting of the ever-lovable "The Village Blacksmith."
Ursula Kwong-Brown of New York received the Longfellow Chorus Director's Prize for her complex, ironic version of "The Day Is Done," which redefines the meaning of a poem known for its simple sentiment.
Longfellow Chorus Director's Prizes in solo song were awarded to two composers from Oregon: Jason A. Heald for "The Singers" and Christopher Wicks, a double winner this year for "Changed," a poem about a visit home to Portland by the aging Longfellow.
Kaufmann adds a new song to the mix, "A Winter's Night." Longfellow wrote the poem in Portland on Jan. 4, 1825, while home from Bowdoin College on Christmas break.
The Longfellow Chorus also will premiere two new Longfellow cantatas for chorus, soloists and orchestra during a matinee performance at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 26.
The two 2011 cantata finalists -- Jonathan Blumhofer of Worcester, Mass., and Piers Maxim of Brussels, Belgium -- are vying for first prize; the winner will be announced after the matinee.
Two soloists will help premiere these two works: Tania Mandzy, mezzo-soprano, and Tyler Putnam, bass-baritone.
For details, including program listings and tickets, visit www.longfellowchorus.com or call 232-8920.