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Harmonia: 10th Anniversary Commission by Steven Sametz

Harmonia celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a commissioned work by American composer Steven Sametz, premiered in Buffalo, NY

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Photos from the 10th Anniversary Concert

Posted on July 27, 2017 by Harmonia Chamber Singers

Robert Pacillo, Artistic Director

Monica Stankewicz, Assistant Conductor

Steven Sametz, Composer and Guest Conductor


Harmonia Chamber Singers, a professional vocal ensemble from Buffalo, NY, celebrated its 10th anniversary with a commissioned work by composer Steven Sametz. Harmonia has established itself as a proponent of new choral music and plans to commission works annually. Funding from New Music USA would benefit that mission.

Echo, by Steven Sametz, text by Christina Rossetti, was commissioned by Harmonia to be premiered at its 10th anniversary concert, May 21, 2016, at St. Joseph Cathedral, Buffalo. In setting Echo, Sametz concentrates both on the dialogue (the poet’s much hoped-for wish reflected in the antiphonal writing between high and low voices) and the sense of overlapping sound (the “echo” of the title). The second section, with a turn to major mode, hints at that ecstatic reunion which the poet experiences only in dream (“O dream, how sweet, too sweet, too bittersweet…”). A shift in tonality signals a realm beyond, “Where thirsting longing eyes/ Watch the slow door/ That opening, letting in, lets out no more.” These compositional elements coalesce in an extended coda: the poet is left with a gently receding echo, and the wistfulness of her longing.

On May 20, 2016, Dr. Sametz lead a choral workshop with Harmonia, the Niagara Falls High School Concert Choir, and the Sweet Home High School Concert Choir. The workshop/concert featured Sametz’s work, I Have Had Singing.

In summer of 2017, Harmonia plans to enter the studio to record highlights of the 10th anniversary season and beyond, focusing on new music and premieres over the past several seasons. Part of our mission is to serve as a vehicle for advancing new choral music in the Western New York area and the world, and this recording project will have an immeasurable impact on that outreach.

Steven Sametz (b. 1954) has been hailed as “one of the most respected choral composers in America.” Though best known for his work in choral and choral-orchestral repertoire, Sametz’s oeuvre includes solo songs, opera, ballets and works for orchestra and chamber ensembles. He is Director of Choral Activities at Lehigh University.

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Eulogy by Rob Deemer
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“Eulogy” (2015) was composed by Rob Deemer, Associate Professor and Head of Composition at SUNY Fredonia. The text is by Brian Turner, poet, essayist, professor, and Iraq War veteran. This work was commissioned by Harmonia for its “Into Light” concert and was premiered on March 6, 2015, at St. Louis Church, Buffalo, NY. The Carnegie Hall debut was on March 13, 2015. Jeffrey Williams of New York Concert Review called the piece “hauntingly moving.” Recorded live on March 8, 2015, at St. Peter’s Church, Lewiston, NY.

Psalm 63 by James DesJardins
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“Psalm 63” (2014) was written by James DesJardins, Buffalo-based composer and educator. Mr. DesJardins approached artistic director, Robert Pacillo, in early 2014 and asked if Harmonia would premiere his piece in May 2014. DesJardins has had two pieces published by Carl Fischer LLC, but this was his first venture into serious choral writing. Recorded live on May 18, 2014, at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY.

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Buffalo, New York

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Last update on July 27, 2017

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Lewiston, New York
The mission of Harmonia Chamber Singers is to present quality a cappella choral literature in a way that is accessible to all audiences. Our goal is to ignite an interest in both classic and new choral works. Each presentation should be emotional, exciting, educational, and inspirational for both the singers and the audience. Another major…


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