Composer Steven Sametz has been named the recipient of the 10th Raymond and Beverly Sackler Music Composition Prize presented by the University of Connecticut, a $25,000 award to compose a new work to be premiered in Connecticut in 2015 and reprised at Lehigh.
The proposed project, tentatively titled “A Child’s Requiem,” is a response to the Sandy Hook Elementary killings of December, 2012, says Sametz, a native of Westport, Conn. The work will incorporate children’s choir, mixed choir and orchestra.
“I am currently working with schools to develop a libretto drawn from children’s responses to tragedy and loss,” Sametz says. “There has been a growing movement of responses from area schools and beyond, and it may be that we start to get national responses from teachers, parents and their children. The more responses we get, the richer the potential of the project becomes.”
Sametz, who has earned increasing renown in recent years as both composer and conductor, is the Ronald J. Ulrich Professor of Music and director of Lehigh University Choral Arts, one of the country’s premier choral programs. He also serves as artistic director for the elite a cappella ensemble, The Princeton Singers, and is the founding director of The Lehigh University Choral Composer Forum, a summer course of study designed to mentor emerging choral composers.
In addition to the Connecticut premiere of his new composition, Sametz says he also plans to reprise the work at Lehigh, and to develop an exhibition of artwork from young children expressive of their thoughts on loss which will be displayed at the time of the performances.
The competition, organized by the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts, is an international award that supports and promotes composers and the performance of their new musical works. Every second year, entrants are asked to compose a piece for a specific area of the musical arts, chosen by the head and other faculty of the UConn music department, such as a jazz ensemble, choir, opera, wind ensemble, or chamber ensemble. This year’s prize is for chorus and orchestra, and entries were received from seven nations and 17 states.
Sametz holds degrees from Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Hochschule fÃ¼r Musik und darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany. He has received commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Council on the Arts, and the Santa Fe music festival. He has created new works for Chanticleer, the Dale Warland Singers, Philadelphia Singers, Pro Arte Chamber Choir, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Connecticut Choral Artists, and the King of Thailand. His recent guest conducting appearances include the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation, the Berkshire Music Festival, the New York Chamber Symphony, and the Netherlands Radio Choir.