Composer Stephen Paulus Featured at NYSSMA Winter Conference

The All-State Winter Conference of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) featured distinguished composer Stephen Paulus as Composer-in-Residence. The conference was held in December 2012 in Rochester, New York.

Stephen Paulus has been hailed as “…a bright, fluent inventor with a ready lyric gift.” (The New Yorker) His prolific output of more than 450 works is represented in many genres, including music for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensembles, solo voice, keyboard and opera. Commissions have been received from the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Houston Symphony and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, with subsequent performances coming from the orchestras of Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC Radio Orchestra. He has served as Composer in Residence for the orchestras of Atlanta, Minnesota, Tucson and Annapolis, and his works have been championed by such eminent conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Kurt Masur, Christoph von Dohanyi, Leonard Slatkin, Yoel Levi, the late Robert Shaw, and numerous others.

Dr. Paulus was commissioned by NYSSMA to compose a new work, “Serenade to Music,” for the New York All-State Mixed Chorus. In addition, the All-State Women’s Chorus performed his composition “Sing Creations Music On”(click to hear a recording performed by the All-State Women’s Chorus). Dr. Paulus visited rehearsals of both All-State choruses to share his insights with the All-State singers and conductors.

“It was an exciting experience for the high school age singers to work with a major living composer,” says Dr. Daniel Deutsch, chair of the NYSSMA composition program and of the NAfME Council for Music Composition. “Dr. Paulus even made some changes in his commissioned work right in front of the students. The young singers could see that composition is a living, breathing art form. We are grateful to NYSSMA President Marc Greene and Executive Director Dr. Steven Schopp for making this commission possible.” Both pieces were performed at the All-State concerts in Eastman Theatre at the Eastman School of Music.

Every year, NYSSMA issues a Call for Compositions for elementary and secondary school students. Well over 100 compositions are submitted every year. Each student receives a written evaluation of his or her composition with encouraging feedback about the piece. Although the emphasis of the program is on evaluation and mentoring rather than competition, NYSSMA selects the most outstanding compositions for performance at the state conference. The conference features a Young Composer Honors Concert and a Student Electronic Music Composition Showcase. Composer-in-Residence Stephen Paulus worked with the award-winning young composers in a Composition Coaching Workshop and at a Young Composer Seminar. In the seminar, he described his compositional process and illustrated how he invites the listeners into his music. The two young composer concerts also included chamber works by Dr. Paulus, performed by Dr. David Colwell and Dr. Dmitri Novgorodsky, faculty members of SUNY-Fredonia.

The NYSSMA Composer-in-Residence program began in 2000, and has featured a treasure trove of fine American composers, including William Bolcom, Morton Subotnick, Tania Leon, Joseph Schwantner, R. Murray Schafer, Libby Larsen, Steven Bryant, Paul Moravec, Joan Tower, Chen Yi, and Kevin Puts. Future Composers-in-Residence will be Christopher Theofanidis (2013) and Alex Shapiro (2014).

Click on the links below to hear recordings of student pieces from the Young Composer Honors Concert. Recordings of Paulus’s music are posted with permission of the composer, and courtesy of Mark Records (CD catalog number 50212-MCD). Student composition recordings are posted with permission of the composers and courtesy of Mark Records (CD catalog number 50341-MCD).

The award-winning composers and compositions are:

Natalie Buckle: Words When We Need Them

Grade 12, Williamsville East HS, East Amherst, NY

Julia Campanella: Twelve Butterflies in Flight

Grade 7, PJ Gelinas JHS, Setauket, NY

Nate Doucette: The Rider

Grade 12, Williamsville East HS, East Amherst, NY

Scott Etan Feiner: Breaking Inertia (Mvt. 2)

Grade 10, Roslyn HS, Roslyn Heights, NY

Jessica Guo: Element of Water

Grade 6, William Sidney Mount ES, Stony Brook, NY

Sidarth Jayadev: Occupy!

Grade 10, Bronx HS of Science, Bronx, NY

Michael Kavanaugh: Furioso

Grade 12, Northport HS, Northport, NY

Victor LaBozzetta III: ytilatnemodnaR

Grade 10, Newfield HS, Selden, NY

Grace Ann Lee: The Song

Grade 10, Williamsville East HS, East Amherst, NY

Nicholas Jazz Politi: Prelude in G Minor

Grade 9, Scarsdale HS, Scarsdale, NY

John Peter Redmond: Three Poems to Sing

Grade 8, Redmonds Home School, Hastings on Hudson

Timothy Sadov: April Waltz

Grade 7, PJ Gelinas JHS, Setauket

Elizabeth Wang: Mountain Lake

Grade 6, William Sidney Mount ES, Stony Brook

Caroline Xiong: Dream to China

Grade 1, PS 188, Queens