Lehigh University 2014 Summer Composers Forum

During the Lehigh
Summer Composer’s Forum, composers come from
all over the country to study with mentor composers
and the art of creating new choral music. For that, we bring
guest mentor composers who teach with myself. This year, we are
pleased to have Pulitzer-nominated and
Grammy-nominated composer Tania Leon. Composers come and they
are told to bring nothing with them initially
except a text. So we start from scratch. And by the first day,
they have some sketches. And by the second
day, they’re being heard by the
professional group who is in residence, the
Princeton singers. And they start to hear
their pieces performed. And as soon as do, they get
to go back and change them. I don’t remember how I found
it, but it seemed phenomenal as an opportunity. It is something
absolutely unique. Nowhere else in
the country have I seen a workshop of choral
pieces intensely packed, condensed into a week. We have 12 or 13 different
composers, absolutely different musical personalities. And we write nonstop
from 5:00 AM to 3:00 AM. I don’t even know how most
people stay up this late. But there’s a very
quick turnover. It’s the fastest paced choral
workshop one can imagine. Well, it’s really intensive. It is very intense. And it’s really wonderful
working with young composers. The diversity of their
voices, their energy, and their zest for being
successful at what they are dreaming to do
for a long time. It’s an absolutely
incredible process. And this doesn’t actually
happen very often where we get a
chance to just spend a week writing music
and hearing it as we go. So I mean, they’re
world class singers. And beforehand, I had only
heard the music in my head. Or maybe at the piano. And then I’m sitting in the
room and they’re singing. And it’s just a
work in progress. It was just absolutely
incredible to hear them. It’s unusual that you get
to take a week of your life where you don’t have
to do the laundry or collect kids or do any of
the things that keep us busy, but just have time to
be a creative soul. So I think it’s a luxury. And the great luxury of then
being able to hear your pieces. I think they’re very
appreciative of the time. And I think they’re very
appreciative of the time they get with teachers and with the
singers and with each other. And they really go
home loving each other and loving the experience.