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COMPOSERS-IN-RESIDENCE

 

Kerensa Briggs
Current Composer-in-Residence
2022 – 2024

Kerensa Briggs is an award-winning composer based in London. Her music has been performed internationally at venues including St Paul’s Cathedral and the Sistine Chapel, and has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM and BBC Radio Scotland by ensembles such as The Tallis Scholars and the BBC Singers. It also features on a number of CDs including 'Advent Carols from King's College London', 'All things are quite silent' by the Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge.

 

Kerensa was winner of the National Centre for Early Music Young Composers Award 2014 and is a member of the TheoArtistry Composers scheme at St Andrews' Institute for Theology and The Arts and the ‘Illuminate’ women’s music project. Her love of choral music emanates from her background, singing in choirs including Gloucester Cathedral Youth and the choir of King's College, London, where she held a Choral Scholarship and undertook an MMus in Composition. Described as 'poignant, ambivalent, quietly devastating music' in the New York Times and 'quiet and curvaceous' in Gramophone magazine, selected works are published by Boosey & Hawkes and Stainer & Bell.

Kerensa’s first work for the Chamber Chorus was a suite in three movements titled Height in Depth, and this was subsequently recorded by the choir for release by Regent Records. Then came Ode to a Saviour, another setting for double choir, this time of words from Sophocles’ “Antigone” translated by Philip Barnes. Next, Kerensa will collaborate with poet Charles Anthony Silvestri on a new suite for Christmas 2023, titled The Holy Land. In the meantime, Kerensa’s full-scale Requiem has been recorded by the choir of King’s College, London, for the Delphian label.

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Karensa Briggs
Mårten Jansson
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 England, his works have won the admiration of various ensembles, including VOCES8, Apollo5, and Chantage—who released a CD devoted to his music.

 

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. He first wrote for us Hope setting a verse by Charles Anthony Silvestri, with whom he had collaborated on Tonight I Dance Alone. With Tony he subsequently produced his Requiem Novum, to be performed by the soprano Anna Dennis, the VOCES8 Foundation choir and the Philharmonia Orchestra in the UK. For his final year as our Composer-in-Residence Mårten was asked to create two cycles of Swedish carols (Luciasvit and Mamma Basta), and their first performance was given in December 2021, with Luciasvit being repeated at the May 2022 performance. The Chamber Chorus will give the North American premiere of his motet, Lead Me, Lord, at its October 2023 concert.

 

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 as a gift not only to St. Louis, but also to the wider musical community.

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Marten Jansson
Melissa Dunphy
2014 – 2018

Visit Melissa's website for information.

Following the works she wrote for the Chamber Chorus during her residency Melissa subsequently composed several other works for the Chorus, including her Suite Remembrance, and Waves of Gallipoli, both of which are published by E. C. Schirmer. In April 2024, the Chamber Chorus will give the world première of her Ode to Hope, setting a translation by Philip Barnes of words from Sophocles’ “Antigone.”

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Melissa Dunphy
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. For over a decade from 2002, he taught composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, teaching original courses to over 2,000 students. Upon retirement, he moved to Italy to concentrate upon composition and fulfill lecturing engagements throughout Europe. For further information, visit 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, now extended to Eastern Europe with Yakov Gubanov, born in the Ukraine and the last private student of Dmitri Shostakovich. Each ‘Composer-in-Residence’ has brought a distinct style of composition to the group, and in Yakov’s case this is rooted in Orthodox traditions. After a career spent pursuing expression in mainly orchestral music, Yakov then 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. And when his residency officially ended, Yakov was fondly remembered by Chamber Chorus singers and audiences alike, which led to them welcoming him back to St. Louis in 2023 for the world première of Campane Pasquali which he had written with them in mind.

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Yakov Gubanov
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 is now a Senior Lecturer, and from where she earned both a master’s degree and doctorate in Creative Arts, studying under Bruce Crossman. She lives in Penrith, Sydney, with her husband, the poet, pastor and composer, John Carroll.

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Clare Maclean
Sasha Johnson Manning
1998 – 2006

Born in Manchester UK), Sasha Johnson Manning studied voice, cello & composition at the Royal Academy of Music. After some years in London, Sasha returned to the north west of England to perform and teach. She served on the faculty of Withington School and sang with the Britten Singers (formerly the BBC Northern Singers) with whom she made numerous broadcasts and recordings. She continues to sing regularly & record for BBC Radio Four’s “Daily Service,” in addition to wide variety of radio and television programs in Europe and Israel.

For many years Sasha also directed the music at St. Mary’s Parish Church in Bowdon, a church with a long and illustrious music tradition where both she and Philip Barnes were once choristers (see the photo above of Sasha and Philip at the Church in 1998). Her work at Bowdon included several broadcasts, and she took the choir to deputize at many of the great English cathedrals. Her earlier compositions were written for this choir, for her students at Withington School, and also for other vocal ensembles in which she herself sang. Gradually, however, her music gained a wider audience through commissions, especially from the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. For us she wrote a series of pieces that ultimately comprised a large-scale, unaccompanied Requiem. The complete work received its world premiere in May 2006, and may now be heard on our CD Saint Louis Commissions (Regent Records). In addition to this major work, Sasha has written other works for us that are listed on our Repertoire page. Most recently she created two Odes (both recorded for Regent Records), In The Land of Song and A Spiritual Musick.

 

This exposure to American audiences led to commissions from other St. Louis groups, including motets for the choir of Holy Communion Church (University City); anthems and instrumental works for Third Baptist Church (Grand Center); carols & motets for St. Peter’s Church (Ladue); solo songs for Washington University; choral songs for Parkway North High School. In 2000 Sasha also wrote a setting of the Evening Canticles for a joint evensong at Manchester Cathedral (UK) sung by her Bowdon choir and that of St. Peter’s (Ladue), and this was subsequently commercially recorded by the latter. Other settings of both the canticles and the mass have been performed in the cathedrals of Norwich, Wells, Winchester, Worcester, and at York Minster. 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, with performance in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall and London’s Royal Albert Hall, as well as various universities. In 2012, the BBC commissioned her to write The People’s Passion Mass with words by Michael Symmons Roberts. This was a national event performed by choirs not only throughout the UK, but also in Europe, Africa and the USA.

Sasha has also written a series of primer pieces for beginning instrumentalists, and several musicals for children; one commission for Withington School was titled 2001 Space Iliad. Her best-known work is The Manchester Carols (published by Faber), a collaboration with the distinguished poet Carol Ann Duffy, which won the 2009 ‘Jerusalem Award’ for a Christmas broadcast, and may be heard on a NAXOS recording. Her Out Of My Soul’s Depths, written for Third Baptist Church (Grand Center), has been published by E. C. Schirmer in the USA. Other performers with whom Sasha has become particularly associated are the recorder virtuoso John Turner and the baritone Mark Rowlinson, and they have both recorded her music.

 

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 later 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.

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Sasha Johnson Manning
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