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The Saint Louis Chamber Chorus

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COMPOSERS-IN-RESIDENCE

 

Mårten Jansson
Current Composer-in-Residence
2019 – 2021

Mårten lives with his family in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where he was born in 1965. A graduate of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, he spent many years working with Carmen, a prominent choir for women’s voices. To this experience he attributes much of his early success, often writing for female voices. Even now he is a teacher, which he combines with a conducting and composing career; the latter has brought invitations to present at choral symposia throughout Europe, most recently in Germany and Latvia.

 

In 2012 Mårten was elected to the Society of Swedish Composers (FST), around the time that he began in earnest writing for mixed voices. His first efforts, for the Royal Chapel in Stockholm and various German choirs, attracted the attention and then support of Bärenreiter Edition, for whom he now writes exclusively. This distinguished publisher promotes Mårten’s works worldwide, with the result that his music is heard and recorded on both sides of the Atlantic. Following the warm reception given here to two of his earlier pieces, the Chamber Chorus commissioned from him Tonight I Dance Alone, to open our 62nd season. This piece may be heard on our website, and as a result of this positive collaboration, Mårten was invited to succeed Melissa Dunphy as our Composer-in-Residence, writing one piece per season for the Chamber Chorus starting in 2019 and serving until 2021.

 

It’s ironic that Mårten’s artistic creed is “my music is my own and I have never tried to be original;” for he is so often original in the way he treats familiar texts, or how he conveys universal emotions. He takes inspiration from a variety of sources, principal of which are his faith and his family. As Mårten gains even greater popularity in North America, we look forward to collaborating with him on several works as a gift not only to St. Louis, but also to the wider musical community.

 
Melissa Dunphy
2014 – 2018

Visit Melissa's website for information.

 
Yakov Gubanov
2011 – 2014

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, in 1954, Yakov Gubanov began playing the piano and composing music at a very young age, and went on to earn his degree in composition from the Moscow Conservatory in 1976, followed by a Ph.D. in music theory in 1983. During his years in Moscow he was one of the last private students of Dmitri Shostakovich, with whom he studied over the course of five years. He is recognized as one of the world’s leading accompanists for silent film, having given over 500 such performances and serving as Composer-in-Residence at the Harvard Film Archive from 1996 to 2007. This is one of the many educational institutions with which he has been associated, in Europe, Israel and the USA. Since 2002 he has taught composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, teaching original courses to over 2,000 students. For further information, visit www.yakovgubanov.com.  

 

The association of Yakov Gubanov with the Chamber Chorus was an exciting development for both the composer and the choir. The broad reach of the SLCC, first to England with Sasha Johnson Manning, and then to Australia with Clare Maclean, extended to Russia with Yakov Gubanov. Each ‘Composer-in-Residence’ has brought a distinct style of composition to the group, and in Yakov’s case this is rooted in Russian Orthodox traditions. After a career spent pursuing expression in mainly orchestral music, of late Yakov has applied his energies to the writing of sacred choral music, initially with the motets Videntes Stellam and Benedicta et Venerabilis. The latter was commissioned by the Italian vocal ensemble, Cantica Symphonia, who performed and broadcast it on national public radio in Italy and France. In 2008 it was included on a Glossa label CD that was awarded the Diapason d’Or prize. It was this motet that brought Yakov to the attention of SLCC Artistic Director Philip Barnes, who programmed it as well as a setting of Psalm 27 for a performance in February 2010. The warm reception given these pieces led to a commission, The Garden of Roses, in December of the same year, and subsequently to the invitation to become the Chamber Chorus’s third Composer-in-Residence.

 
Clare Maclean
2006 – 2011

Clare Maclean was born in Timaru, New Zealand in 1958. She studied composition at Wellington Polytechnic with Gillian Bibby, and at Sydney University with Peter Sculthorpe. While studying in Sydney, she joined the then Sydney University Chamber Choir (now the Sydney Chamber Choir) under Nicholas Routley, singing music from the Renaissance to the present, with a focus on both early and contemporary music.

 

The experience of singing this repertoire was important in the development of Clare’s musical language, which has been influenced by Renaissance polyphony and the use of modes; her music often combines aspects of different styles, and sometimes quotations from past music. These musical threads, which continue through changing musical conventions, have come to symbolise for her the presence of the changeless transcendent in the passing of time, which she interprets in terms of a Christian faith.

 

Clare has taught aural and harmony at Sydney University and at the University of Western Sydney, where she works at present. She is also enrolled in a Doctorate of Creative Arts program in composition at Western Sydney under Bruce Crossman. She lives in Penrith, Sydney, with her husband John Carroll and their four children.

 
Sasha Johnson Manning
1998 – 2006

Born in Manchester, England, Sasha Johnson Manning trained in voice and ’cello at the Royal Academy of Music, where she also studied composition with Roger Steptoe. After some years in London, Sasha returned to the north west of England, to work freelance as a performer and teacher. She is currently on the faculty of Withington School, and is a member of The Britten Singers (formerly the BBC Northern Singers) with whom she has made numerous broadcasts and recordings, both as a soloist and as an ensemble singer. She sings each week for BBC Radio Four’s Daily Service, which she sometimes directs. She has also made recordings for a wide variety of radio and television programmes in Britain, on the Continent, and in Israel.

Sasha is also the director of music at St. Mary’s Parish Church in Bowdon, England, a church with a long and illustrious music tradition (see the photo above of Sasha and Philip Barnes at Bowden Church, 1998). She has directed the church choir for several BBC programmes, and has conducted the choir in many of the great English cathedrals. Many of her earlier compositions were written for her own choir, for her students at Withington School, and also for some small vocal ensembles in which she herself sang. Gradually, however, her music gained a wider audience through several commissions, especially from the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. For this choir she wrote a series of pieces that ultimately comprised a large-scale, unaccompanied Requiem. This complete work received its world premiere in May 2006, and may be heard on our CD, Saint Louis Commissions, recorded for Regent Records in November 2006 and released in the fall of 2007. The Requiem has also been selected to conclude the 52nd annual season of the Chamber Chorus in May 2008. In addition to this major work, Sasha has written other works for the St. Louis Chamber Chorus, including Four Songs from Love’s Labour’s Lost, Mary Magdalen (to a poem by James Elroy Flecker), and Song: in memoriam GRF, commissioned to celebrate the life and music of Gerald Finzi. Other performers with whom Sasha has become particularly associated are the recorder virtuoso John Turner and the baritone Mark Rowlinson, both of whom have recorded her music.

 

This exposure to American audiences has led to commissions from other groups, including Three Motets for the choir of Holy Communion Church in University City, Missouri, an anthem and a carol for St. Peter’s Church in Ladue, Missouri, and The White Island for Parkway North High School in Missouri. In the summer of 2000 Sasha also composed a setting in D of the Evening Canticles, premiered by her own church choir and the choir of St. Peter’s, at a joint evensong at Manchester Cathedral. Other settings of the canticles and the mass have been performed at various times in the cathedrals of Norwich, Wells, Winchester, Worcester, and at York Minster. Other non-liturgical pieces include a series of ‘jingles’ for BBC Radio Five, a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra and a birthday tribute for the composer John Joubert, both performed in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, and various compositions performed in the Royal Albert Hall, London, and in recital halls at various universities. Sasha has also written a series of primer pieces for beginner instrumentalists, and several musicals for children; a recent commission for Withington School was entitled 2001 Space Iliad. Her most significant work of late has been The Manchester Carols, a collaboration with the distinguished poet Carol Ann Duffy. Finally, as a singer herself, Sasha has particularly enjoyed writing solo songs, and has composed both sacred and secular pieces with a variety of accompaniments.

 

As a soprano soloist, Sasha’s extensive oratorio repertoire ranges from Monteverdi’s Vespers to Francis Poulenc’s Gloria. She has toured Germany with the Academy of St. Martin’s-in-the-fields singing Haydn’s Creation, and has similarly toured Holland and Belgium with the guitarist Paco Peña, singing his Missa Flamenca. Sasha has also performed with the Deller Consort in concerts in France and Germany, and was a soloist with them in a production of Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas, presented in Turin and Sicily, and more recently in Bèthune, broadcast by French television.

 

In England Sasha has sung with countertenor Michael Chance at the Stour Music Festival, and has recently sung in performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Haydn’s Creation and Saint-Saëns’s Requiem. She has performed and recorded works by Henry Purcell with the Orchestra of the Golden Age, and made guest appearances with the early music group Musical Offering in works by Handel, Purcell, Scarlatti and Telemann. In September 2001 Sasha made her movie début in My Kingdom, which starred Richard Harris and Lynn Redgrave.