2017 Competition

The DaCapo Chamber Choir is thrilled to announce the winner of the 2017 NewWorks choral composition competition: Nicholas Kelly, for his composition The Immortal.

Out of a very strong field of entries, The Immortal was selected as this year’s winner with jurors calling the piece “evocative,” and praising its “excellent marriage of text and music.”  Director Leonard Enns calls it a “superb composition” that will “reward repeated listening for an audience, and repeated performance for singers.”  DaCapo will premiere The Immortal at our March 2018 concert, Reincarnations.

Nicholas Ryan Kelly is a BC-based composer who draws inspiration from science, nature, and speculative fiction. He collaborates with wind bands, choirs, soloists, and (occasionally) orchestras throughout North America, and his instrumental music has been featured in performances or workshops by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Victoria Symphony, and the West Point (U.S. Army) band. In 2016-2017, he has so far been the recipient of five awards for his choral and wind ensemble compositions, including the international Edwin Fissinger Choral Composition Prize.

Originally from rural New York State, Nick is now a permanent resident of Canada and lives in BC’s beautiful Okanagan Valley, where he is happily involved in many small-town musical activities. He is a graduate of Ithaca College (B.Mus.) and the University of British Columbia (M.Mus.)

Notes on “The Immortal”
Like many composers, I was first drawn to the poetry of Marjorie Pickthall (and this poem in particular) by the imagery: its vivid atmospheres and sharp contrasts provide a fertile ground for musical exploration. As I worked on this piece, I also came to appreciate the contemporary relevance of its seemingly-romantic message: that “beauty is immortal” even in the darkest of times. I think it serves as a nice reminder of the permanence of the arts, even (or especially) in times of upheaval.
Musically, I reflected the poem’s progression from bleakness to transcendence by gradually morphing from A minor to A major. This compositional technique (progressing from a minor key to its parallel major to exemplify a positive transformation) is very traditional in itself, but the interest in this piece comes from how it is actualized: the detours the music takes through various textures, tonalities, and atmospheres. I hope this reflects–and adds a new dimension to–the richness and variety of images in the words as the choir sings them.

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The DaCapo Chamber Choir gratefully acknowledges the support of:

Wallenstein Feed Charitable Foundation
Good Foundation Inc.
Ontario Arts Council
City of Kitchener
City of Waterloo