Chorus America’s Commission Consortiums bring choruses of all sizes and from around the United States and Canada together to bring new repertoire to life from beloved and acclaimed composers. The tradition of over ten years has brought pieces that highlight America’s cultural diversity, the impact of youth in the world, and many other themes – in 2022, the tradition continues with the offering of compositions celebrating Latin American music from composers Cristian Grases and Suzzette M. Ortiz.
More than 35 choruses who joined the 2021 Consortiums are now inspiring their communities with premieres of compelling compositions by Roland M. Carter and Augusta Read Thomas honoring titans of the American civil rights movement. Here we share a few of those performances to date.
Make Some Noise, Get In Trouble (SATB Commission)
Roland M. Carter’s Make Some Noise, Get in Trouble honors civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis and is rooted in the idiomatic melodic and rhythmic strains of traditional spirituals. The piece is designed to speak to the impacts of the pandemic and injustice.
As part of a Juneteenth Choral Celebration, San Francisco-based Amateur Music Network (AMN) held a hybrid workshop and performance to premiere Carter’s commission. Along with the performance, conducted by Dr. Candace Y. Johnson that featured in-person and online/virtual singers, AMN also hosted a conversation with Roland Carter to learn about the conception of the piece.
Capitol Hill Chorale premiered the work during the closing of its 29th season with the concert A New Path which featured music by composers of color and women composers. The concert aims to highlight underrepresented communities and their exclusion in many areas, including the art of choral music.
In their return to the stage after two years of virtual performances and rehearsals, the Chicago Community Chorus premiered Carter’s commission as part of their spring concert Diversity Inspires Change.
Columbia Pro Cantare premiered the piece in their community in American Voices, a concert that featured music from American composers that honor and give voice to the varied and rich cultural heritage of the United States.
FREEDOM: To Be Free and Sky Bound (Treble Commission)
FREEDOM: To Be Free and Sky Bound by Augusta Read Thomas is a piece in memory of Rosa Parks that uses texts from Parks’ “Freedom” and Jalāl ad-Dīn Mohammad Rūmī’s “Love.” The piece inspires and motivates action to fight for freedom, human rights, and civil rights for all fellow human beings.
In May of 2022, the Wisconsin Chamber Choir premiered Thomas’ commission in the concert Hope Springs Eternal. The concert’s overarching theme was hope as it acknowledged the many struggles faced around the world.
The Texas Lutheran University Choir and the Texas Lutheran University Treble Choir participated in commissioning both FREEDOM: To Be Free and Sky Bound and Make Some Noise, Get in Trouble. Both pieces were performed as part of a tour program in March.
Many performances of the 2021 commissions are still to come. We look forward to seeing these pieces come to life and hope that the Chorus America community will keep an eye out for more premieres from the choruses and organizations that brought these pieces to the field.
Chorus America is also thrilled for the 2022 Commission Consortiums with composers Cristian Grases and Suzzette Ortiz. The new commissioned works, delivered to participating choruses by August 31, 2023, pull inspiration from Latin America, Caribbean, and Puerto Rican musical stylings and incorporate the Spanish language. Details about participating, the composers, and pricing can be found at chorusamerica.org/commission-consortiums.