On Wednesday, May 29th, the award winning, New York based composer and accomplished sound designer, Josh Schmidt will travel home to Milwaukee. The young, ambitious composer is returning to his home-town, and specifically to his alma mater, Homestead High School, for the World Premiere of his latest composition, a commissioned choral-orchestral work to be performed by Homestead’s Choirs and Chamber Orchestra at the school’s 25th Anniversary Choir Benefit Concert on Sunday, June 2nd.
Since graduating from Homestead High School in 1994, Schmidt has composed four innovative musicals and crafted exceptional sound design for over 36 theater venues throughout the USA. Milwaukee’s Skylight Music Theater performed Schmidt’s first original musical production, “The Adding Machin3” in their 2011 season. As a recitalist of new music, Schmidt has been invited to perform on stages from New York City to Berlin, Germany.
Over two years ago, Homestead's choir music director, Ms. Rebecca Winnie, began planning for the quarter-century celebration of the high school’s choir benefit concert. Winnie approached Schmidt about writing a choral-orchestral work to be studied and performed by her students. Schmidt enthusiastically agreed and selected the poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens as the text of his original composition.
"It has been a wonderfully collaborative project," Winnie stated, "and a superb way to celebrate our 25th Benefit Concert, scheduled to feature 20th and 21st century choral music. Josh’s 12 movement, 21-minute work is perfectly suited for the various Homestead choirs, the Chamber Orchestra strings [John Emanuelson, HHS Orchestra director] and our accompanist, Mrs. Michelle Hynson [Assistant Director and accompanists of Bel Canto Chorus]. It has been exciting for Homestead’s fine arts students to realize that they the first group to study and bring this work to life!"
The choirs began work on this unique piece in April at their all-choir retreat with prominent guest clinician Dr. Richard Hynson [director of Bel Canto Chorus and the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra] and with Mrs. Hynson on piano. (Pictured)
The Choir Benefit Concerts feature a different musical era each year in a 4-year cycle. Additional music to be performed on the June 2nd program includes pieces by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten, Vincent Perischetti, Murray Schafer, Stephan Chatman, Eric Whitacre, and Wisconsin composer, Eric William Barnum. Additionally, choirs will perform folksongs from Haiti and South Africa, as well as popular and jazz tunes. There will be a moment in the program to honor the choir's graduating class of 2013 with the traditional performance of Randal Swiggum's Castaway!, a work commissioned in 1991 for the Homestead High School graduation ceremonies.
The 25th Anniversary Choir Benefit concert will take place in the James Barr Auditorium at Homestead High School (5000 W. Mequon Rd, Mequon, WI) on Sunday, June 2nd at 7:00 pm. Ticket Donation is $10.00 at the door. In honor of this special occasion, there will be a reception following the Benefit program for all to meet the composer and celebrate the work of the 2012-13 HHS Choirs.
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