The Catholic University of America

Special Commission Opportunities for Student Composers

In addition to the annual commission of the Christmas concert's opening choral-orchestral fanfare, the School of Music has created many additional opportunities for students to create new music for special occasions.

Many of these special events have taken place as part of the Catholic University President's Festival of the Arts, a major School of Music festival held in the spring semester. All divisions of the School of Music are featured during the festival and contribute to that year's special theme. The Composition division has contributed to these festivals by taking part in special group commissions. Through these group commission projects, CUA student (both undergraduate and graduate), alumni, and faculty composers, as well as composers outside CUA, have been commissioned to create new works for premiere performances at the President's Festival. Each special event is discussed below, by year.

 

2009: "Silent Explosions, Invisible Jumps: Music, Dance and Film Create a Ruckus"
Project conception: Andrew Simpson, CUA Composition faculty
Project coordinator: Andrew Simpson
2009 President's Festival Theme: "If It's Not One Thing, It's Another," focusing on the interaction between different art forms
Project summary: Developed as an outgrowth of a spring 2009 course, "Composing for Silent Film," this project explored the interaction between three arts: silent film, music, and dance. Composers paired with choreographers to create separate works connected with early silent films by French film pioneer Georges Melies. Click here to visit the project website and to learn more.
 
2008: "Playing, Singing, Talking Wilder"
Project conception: Murry Sidlin, Dean, School of Music
Project coordinators: Andrew Simpson, CUA Composition faculty, Gail Beach, Chair, Dept. of Drama
2008 President's Festival Theme: "Wilder and Wilder," focusing on the work of American playwright Thornton Wilder
Project summary: The School of Music Composition division and the CUA Department of Drama partnered to present an evening of Thornton Wilder's "three-minute plays." Some of the plays were presented as straight plays with new incidental music by CUA composers; some were miniature operas created by CUA composers. Click here to visit the project website and to learn more.
 
2006: "New Old American Songs"
Project conception: Murry Sidlin, Dean, School of Music
Project coordinator: Andrew Simpson, CUA Composition faculty
2006 President's Festival Theme: "Aaron Copland's America"
Project summary: In honor of Copland's "Old American Songs," CUA composers were commissioned to write ten new settings of American folk songs. The songs were premiered by the CUA University Chorus and Festival Chamber Players.
Media: Click here to read an article in NewMusic Box about the "New Old American Songs" performance
 
2005: "Songs of the Forgotten War"
Project conception: Murry Sidlin, Dean, School of Music
Project coordinator: Andrew Simpson, CUA Composition faculty
2005 President's Festival Theme: "Waging Peace: Music in Time of War"
Project summary: 19 composers were commissioned to create a one-minute piece for chamber ensemble and/or singers, each movement inspired by one of the 19 soldier statues at the Korean Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC. The piece was premiered at CUA in spring 2005.
In August 2005, "Songs of the Forgotten War" was performed again at the Kennedy Center by the Asian-American Music Society.
Media: Click here to listen to a radio interview about the project on WAMU 88.5 FM