April 18, 2017
The Johnson State College Chorale will premiere what is believed to be JSC’s first commissioned choral composition at a concert at 7 p.m. April 28 at Dibden Center for the Arts on campus. The event is free for the public.
The chorale will sing “The Hillman’s Lass,” with music written by internationally known Toronto choral composer Matthew Emery, at the performance with the JSC Concert Band and a percussion ensemble. Emery set to music a poem by the late Canadian writer Marjorie Pickthall, whose poems focused on nature.
Emery plans to have the composition published, and the piece will note that it was commissioned by JSC.
“This means other choirs that purchase and perform this music in the future will have the Johnson State College name in their hands. So it is a way to spread the word about the good work we are doing at the college while also benefiting from the composition and commissioning process itself,” says Bethany Plissey, who directs the JSC Chorale and Chamber Singers.
Students worked with Emery during rehearsals through Skype. “Working with the composer in this context allows students to better understand the compositional process. They become more connected with the work and gain more insight into the importance of performing what the composer put on the page for them,” says Plissey, chair of JSC’s Performing Arts Department.
She plans to include “The Hillman’s Lass” in a performing arts festival next fall that JSC is organizing, to host high school students and others. “We like the idea of sharing this piece with high schools in Vermont. Much of the scenery and nature described in the poem connects well with our home in the Green Mountains,” Plissey says.
JSC singers performed another Emery composition, “When the Sun Comes after Rain,” two years ago. “The choir was quite taken with that piece and Matthew’s ability to transmit a certain mood and create color,” Plissey says.
Emery is the composer-in-residence for the Amabile Choirs of London, Ontario, and several other Toronto-area choirs. He is an associate composer at Toronto’s Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. Emery is pursuing a Master of Music degree at the University of Toronto.
For more information about the JSC concert, call 635-1476.