A Child’s Requiem, an oratorio written by Lehigh composer Steven P. Sametz to honor the twenty children and six adults who were killed during the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, will be performed for the first time in the Lehigh Valley.
“We do these things for the living,” Sametz said. “We do it for the comfort of those left behind.”
Lehigh University Choral Arts and Dr. Steven Sametz, Artistic Director, and Sun Min Lee, Associate Director present Sametz’s A Child’s Requiem featuring Tami Petty, soprano and David Vanderwahl, tenor along with The Princeton Singers, The Princeton Girlchoir, and twenty-two member orchestra and over 200 singers of Lehigh University Choral Arts on Friday, Saturday, November 6 & 7 at Zoellner Arts Center. Vaughan Williams’ “A Serenade to Music,” a serenely beautiful tribute to the healing power of music on a text by William Shakespeare, opens the program. Tickets are $18 and free for Lehigh students.
“On December 14, 2012, images of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Connecticut dominated the news. Chief among them was the photograph of a line of children being out of the school to the nearby fire station. From the time I considered writing a piece to commemorate these children and their teachers, three lines suggested themselves and haunted me recalling that picture: ‘Stay in line…’ ‘Hold hands…’ ‘Keep your eyes closed…’ I knew these would be the first intoned words of A Child’s Requiem,” said Sametz on his website.
“I am giving a voice to children affected by gun violence. The arts can offer healing and a way to approach difficult subjects. It’s possible that this may open a larger conversation about how we keep our children safe” Sametz says. “Working with The Swain School (Allentown, PA) and Hamilton-Disston Elementary School (Philadelphia) was a transformative process in giving voice to children’s stories and how they are affected by tragedy and loss.”
Allentown native 7-year-old Jessica Stone, put crayon to paper after a discussion with her mother about what happens to people when they die. Stone’s crayon drawing shows two friends holding hands — newly minted angels on a cloud to heaven — along with a sun and rainbow. Her drawing has become the iconic artwork associated with the piece.
WDIY is the Lehigh University Music Department media sponsor. Dr. Silagh White, Director of Arts Engagement and Community Cultural Affairs at Lehigh University will lead a pre-show discussion at 7 pm about Sametz’s process of connecting to students in schools for his libretto. She will also talk about the importance of giving our children a voice in tragedy and grief.
Sametz, a native of Westport, CT said “A Child’s Requiem” “revolves around a libretto, much of which was written by children. “It’s paired with lines from [the American poets Ralph Waldo] Emerson and [Emily] Dickinson and H.D. [Hilda Doolittle, who was born in Bethlehem]. It’s a collision between the adult world and the world of innocence. I hope to offer this piece as a gift to the town of Newtown as they heal from their tragic loss.”
Artistic director, Steven Sametz marks his 35th year as Director of Choral Activities at Lehigh University. Sametz is the first professor at Lehigh to be named a candidate in the Fulbright Specialist Program, a US government-sponsored program sending master teachers to universities around the world.
Sametz has earned increasing renown in recent years both as a composer and conductor. Sametz is the Ronald J. Ulrich Professor of Music and director of Lehigh University Choral Arts, one of the country’s premiere choral programs. He is the founding director of the Lehigh Choral Union and the Lehigh University Choral Composers’ Forum, a summer course of study designed to mentor emerging choral composers. Since 1998, he has served as Artistic Director for the professional a cappella ensemble, The Princeton Singers. Recently, Sametz has made guest conducting appearances at the Taipei Philharmonic Foundation, the Berkshire Music Festival, the New York Chamber Symphony and the Netherlands Radio Choir. His compositions have been heard in music festivals throughout the world and his work appeared on the Grammy award-winning CD Colors of Love by Chanticleer.
Sametz received commissions from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Council on the Arts and the Santa Fe music festival. He has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and Chorus America. Before coming to Lehigh, he was the Director of Choral Activities at Harvard University. Sametz received degrees from Yale University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany.
Associate director, Sun Min Lee, the Robert Cutler Professor of Practice in Choral Arts, is the director of the women’s choir Dolce, an associate conductor of Lehigh Choral Arts, teacher of aural skills for both beginners and advanced musicians, and overseer of the voice program. Lee served as an assistant professor of choral conducting for eight years at Rider University’s Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. She was the director of the Westminster Chapel Choir and the Rider University Chorale. Lee holds a Bachelor of Church Music degree from the Presbyterian College and Theological Seminary in her native South Korea and an advanced diploma in Kodaly’s music pedagogy from the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music in Kecskemét, Hungary. She received a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting with distinction from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she was the recipient of the Currin Foundation Scholarship.
The Lehigh University Choral Arts is dedicated to the preservation and practice of the art of choral singing. It has a repertoire spanning over six centuries and includes music from around the globe. Lehigh University Choral Arts provides an opportunity to explore the best in choral literature while fostering and improving vocal technique and artistry. Lehigh Choral Arts has been heard on NPR and toured internationally, most recently to Italy in May of 2015.
For tickets, call 610-758-2787, ext. 0, visit Zoellner Ticket Services, Tuesday 12-6 pm, Wednesday through Friday from 12-5 p.m, or two hours before curtain, or order online at http://www.zoellnerartscenter.org. Senior, student, group and LVAIC discounts are available.