Christopher LaRosa, Nathan Stang, and Matthew Recio have been named the first-, second- and third-prize winners, respectively, of this year’s NOTUS Student Composition Contest. All are current doctoral students majoring in composition at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
LaRosa’s first-prize work is Jesus Wept for mixed chorus a cappella. LaRosa is currently pursuing a Doctor of Music degree in composition at the Jacobs School, where he also serves as an associate instructor in the music theory department. His composition teachers have included Claude Baker, John Gibson, Jeffrey Hass, P.Q. Phan, John Wallace and Dana Wilson. LaRosa was the second-prize winner of last year’s NOTUS contest.
LaRosa offers that there is no program note for his work outside of the text and that the text and music will speak for itself when heard at the NOTUS concert in the spring. The text reads “Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!”
Stang’s second-prize work is O Felix Anima for mixed chorus and organ. He says of his work, “The text of O felix anima has its source in Hildegard von Bingen’s morality play Ordo Virtutum. Melodic material from Hildegard’s own setting of this text is used in the present composition, wherein phrases from the chant are introduced in the organ. Melodic cells and motives from the phrases exposed are then taken up and developed by the choir.”
Finally, composer Recio is this year’s third-prize winner for his work Echo. Recio completed his M.M. in composition from the Jacobs School last year, and he is currently in his first year of doctoral coursework. In addition to being the first-prize winner of the 2016 NOTUS contest, Recio has been a baritone in NOTUS for the last three years.
NOTUS will perform LaRosa’s prize-winning work during their final concert of the semester: This View of Life: Serendipity in Song on Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Auer Concert Hall at 8pm. They will also perform this work at Anderson University on Thursday, March 23, 2017. These concerts will feature a world premiere of Don Freund’s new commissioned work Popping Bubbles, and performances of music by composers Shawn Crouch, Chen Yi, Lansing McLoskey, Wilma Alba Cal, Hyo-Won Woo and Luciano Berio. NOTUS will perform the works by Stang and Recio during the 2017-18 academic year.
The judges also awarded two honorable mentions, for John William Griffith’s Comme Je Trouve and Kathryn Jorgensen’s Un Paseo Por La Oscuridad.
The contest is an initiative of Dominick DiOrio, associate professor of music and director of NOTUS: IU Contemporary Vocal Ensemble. The annual competition is open to all current undergraduate and graduate students at the Jacobs School of Music.
Judges for the competition included Claude Baker, Class of 1956 Chancellor’s professor of music (composition), Duane Davis, adjunct lecturer in music (choral conducting/jazz studies), and Maria Hagan, member of NOTUS and associate instructor/doctoral student in choral conducting. DiOrio did not take part in the judging panel. The submission of scores was anonymous and the judges did not see names or identifying information until after final decisions were made.
Christopher LaRosa’s music displays a fascination for temporal perception, human aggression and compassion, natural phenomena and technological advancements. His music has been described as “deftly crafted” by the Boston Classical Review and “charismatic, well scored, and positively received” by the Hartford Courant. His experience in the electronic music studio permeates his acoustic compositions, where texture, timbre and spatialization gain equal footing with melody, harmony and counterpoint. LaRosa has received commissions from the American Guild of Organists, Atlantic Coast Conference Band Directors Association and Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His music has been performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia by ensembles such as the United States Marine Band, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, the Boston New Music Initiative, CEPROMUSIC, the Genesis Chamber Singers and NOTUS. LaRosa is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he serves as an associate instructor for the theory department. During the summer of 2016, he studied electronic music creation and critique at IRCAM in Paris. In 2015, he earned a master’s degree from Boston University. LaRosa completed his undergraduate studies at Ithaca College. He has studied with Claude Baker, John Gibson, Jeffrey Hass, P.Q. Phan, John Wallace and Dana Wilson.
Nathan Stang is a composer, teacher, cat lover and organist currently pursuing a Doctor of Music degree at the Jacobs School of Music. He often finds inspiration for his music in visual art and film but counts the sounds, tunes and rhythms of video game soundtracks among his principal influences. Much of his music is marked by a distinct lightness and humor, and, preferring to compose in short-form, his output contains many suites and multi-movement works. Stang has received much recognition for his work as a composer, including an award from the Rochester Society of Chamber Music for his brass quintet Moments Musicaux, and, most recently, the Howard Hanson Prize for his Undertow for wind orchestra. Additional recognition came with the awarding of a grant from Stetson University for the composition of his Missa Brevis, as well as a scholarship for continued study from the Presser Foundation. A native of central Florida, he holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Theory and Composition from Stetson University and a Master of Music degree in Composition from the Eastman School of Music. Future projects include plans to adapt Sherwood Anderson’s short story Death in the Woods as a monodrama for tenor and chamber ensemble.
Composer of various mediums, Matthew Recio’s evocative compositions generate a vivid imagistic experience for listeners. His collaborations with dancers, artists, writers and filmmakers offer a full spectrum of auditory and visual sensations. He is a graduate of Ithaca College, with a B.M. in composition and music education, and is pursuing his D.M. at Indiana this fall where he also received his M.M. in composition. The past two years, he represented Indiana at the Midwest Festival and collaborated in the Hammer and Nail project, the Double Exposure Live Film Scoring Initiative and the String Quartet Collaboration Project. As an active choral singer and writer, he was a winner of the 2016 NOTUS competition, 2016 Cincinnati Camerata competition and New Voices Opera competition (2017 premiere), and finalist for Michael Kerschner’s Young New Yorker’s Chorus competition and 2016 Morton Gould Award, and chosen for the 2016 ACDA master class with Ēriks Ešenvalds featuring the C4 choir. His instrumental works have won him the 2015 IMTA Opus Young Artist competition, featured composer of the UNK Contemporary Festival and the 2015 Quartet Nouveau competition. His choral works have placed him as a semi-finalist in the American Prize Competition. This past summer, he was excited to have been awarded a fellowship composer position at the Norfolk Chamber Series hosted by the Yale School of Music. He was also selected as a composition and choral fellow for Donald Nally’s award winning choir, The Crossing.