Singing the Praises of Harmonium Choral Society

Wendy Liscow, Program Officer

Anne Matlack delivering her acceptance speech at the Chorus America Convention

I was still hearing Harmonium Choral Society’s haunting and powerful May concert in my head when we received the good news: Chorus America, a non-profit service organization dedicated to building a dynamic national choral community, awarded Harmonium Choral Society the 2009 Education Outreach Award at their 32nd Annual Conference in Philadelphia last week.

The $2,500 award recognizes Harmonium’s 12-year commitment to encouraging New Jersey high school students to compose choral works through their New Jersey High School Student Choral Composition Contest.

It was especially exciting because I had recently heard the 12th Annual Contest winners’ compositions performed at Harmonium’s “Worlds Untraveled: Music of the Soul” concert.  The gifted young artists honored at the concert definitely made the case for the award. The grand prize winner, Michael Rosin, is a junior at Westfield High School and has been composing for five years.  The sophistication of his work was evident in his evocative piece “Sapientia Pacis,” which incorporated the Old Testament verses Wisdom 3:1-3 in Latin, one of four texts provided by Harmonium for the contest.

The contest runner-up is equally talented, and certainly has a bright future.  Tim Laciano, a sophomore at New Providence High School, is also a pianist, oboist, pitched percussionist, and vocalist, and if there is a music-oriented program at his school, he is in it:  Marching Band, Indoor Drumline, Concert and Jazz Bands, Orchestra, and Men’s Choir.

Artistic Director Dr. Anne Matlack (pictured above, accepting the Chorus America conference award) and Contest Coordinator Johnathan Reale ought to be extremely proud that the past twelve contest winners have stayed involved in music and most have continued to compose.  Digital files of the winning compositions are available for free listening at Harmonium’s student web showcase.

2009 New Jersey High School Student Choral Composition Contest (L to R):  Johnathan Reale, Contest Coordinator;  Tim Laciano, Contest Runner-Up; Michael Rosin, Grand Prize Winner; Dr. Anne Matlack, Artistic Director.

2009 New Jersey High School Student Choral Composition Contest (L to R):  Johnathan Reale, Contest Coordinator;  Tim Laciano, Contest Runner-Up; Michael Rosin, Grand Prize Winner; Dr. Anne Matlack, Artistic Director.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that three other world premiere original choral compositions were featured at this concert including a Dodge-funded work by Amanda Harberg whose new piece “Apparitions” is inspired by Poe and Shakespeare.  You can hear some of Amanda’s works at her myspace page.

The Chorus recently returned from a tour to Spain and is now preparing for a program on August 9, 2009, which is part of the Madison Library Summer Courtyard series, at 7 pm in the Madison Library Courtyard, Madison, NJ.  Admission is free and it is a perfect opportunity to hear one of Morris County’s treasures.  I guarantee you will be hearing their harmonized voices in your head for a long time to come.

harmonium toledo 2

Harmonium Chorus on tour in Toledo, Spain.

Photos courtesy of: Edward Savaria, Beth Branigan, and Aaron Richton

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One Response to Singing the Praises of Harmonium Choral Society

  1. Dan Karger says:

    Thank you Geraldine R. Dodge foundation for the early support that made it possible to develop and grow the Harmonium High School Choral Composition contest, which received Chorus America’s 2009 National Award for Education Outreach. As a member of Harmonium choral society, I have felt privileged to be present when the contest wining composers hear their work performed for the first time by Harmonium in concert. What a moment! And I am amazed by the high quality and sophistication of the music created by these talented new composers.

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