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SU Women's Choir to premiere Gregg Smith Choral Composition Contest winner at March 26 concert

March 08, 2010

Erica Blust
(315) 443-5891

The Syracuse University Women’s Choir, under the direction of Barbara M. Tagg, faculty member in the Rose, Jules R. and Stanford S. Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA), will premiere the winning composition of SU’s Gregg Smith Choral Composition Contest on Friday, March 26, at 8 p.m. in a joint concert with the SU Concert Choir. The concert, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Rose and Jules R. Setnor Auditorium, Crouse College. Parking is available in the Irving Garage.

New York City composer Kala Pierson had her work “The Turning Earth” selected this past fall by a committee of Setnor School faculty from more than 30 entries submitted by composers in 15 states. The award, which is named for renowned composer and choral conductor Gregg Smith, is given biennially to a composer between the ages of 21 and 35 who has written and submitted a musical composition for a Setnor School choral ensemble. Pierson will work with the women’s choir prior to the concert and be present for the premiere; Smith is also expected to attend the concert.

The women’s choir will also perform Smith’s “Now I Walk in Beauty” and “Latin Madrigals,” as well as works by Walker, Dawson and Papoulis. Under the direction of John Warren, assistant professor and chair of choral studies in the Setnor School, the concert choir will perform works by Handel, Aguiar, Haugland, Cunliffe and Diettrich. The concert’s finale will feature the combined choirs and the Syracuse Children’s Chorus (SCC) in a performance of “Welcome Home” from Smith’s opera “Rip Van Winkle.”

The women’s choir and concert choir include Setnor School students as well as undergraduate and graduate students from across the SU campus.

Pierson focuses on multi-country projects and collaborations. In 2008 and 2009, her work was performed and installed in France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, the United Kingdom and more than 20 U.S. cities; in festivals including Musica Viva, Contemporanea (Citta di Udine), Spark and Canaan Downs; and in venues ranging from a forest to a medieval fortress to the World Financial Center Winter Garden. As a 2009 finalist for the Kraft Media Prize, she was part of performances at the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Gallery and the Phillips Collection.

Pierson co-founded Summer in Sombor, an international composition seminar held each July in northern Serbia. Her notated music has been performed by American Opera Projects, San Francisco Choral Artists (as winner of their New Voices competition), Cantate Chamber Singers (as winner of their composition competition), Nurse Kaya Sextet, Momenta Quartet, Season Quartet, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society Young Composers Project with Toby Twining’s group Mouth Music, New York Miniaturist Ensemble, Tanglewood Young Artists Chorus, and many soloists and duos. For more information about Pierson, visit  

The Setnor School established the Gregg Smith Choral Composition Contest as well as the Gregg Smith Graduate Choral Conducting Scholarship in 2008 with the support of an anonymous donor. Smith has a 25-year relationship with SU and the SCC, which was founded by Tagg. Under her direction, the SCC has premiered several major works composed by Smith for children’s choir and choir with orchestra; fully staged two of his operas; hosted the Gregg Smith Singers in performance; and, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, produced the CD “Voices of Innocence: The Syracuse Children’s Chorus Sings the Music of Gregg Smith.” Smith has also presented a master class for the SU Women’s Choir.

For more information, contact Tagg at (315) 443-5750 or

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