Road to Composers’ Premieres at ACDA-MN State Conference Started with VocalEssence ReMix Program

How do you make sure that choral music stays relevant? Mix it up—VocalEssence style. 2015 was the launch of VocalEssence ReMix, a program breathing new life into choral music by encouraging break-out musical artists—whether you sing in a rock band or play classical music—to write for choirs.

Four budding composers (out of a pool of 43!) were selected to work one-on-one with composer mentors Libby Larsen, Tim Takach, Carol Barnett and J. David Moore for six months to write a piece for high school and college choirs. In addition, the composers were able to workshop their new pieces with the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers before the official premiere last November.

The mentoring sessions and rehearsal time with the Ensemble Singers were the most prized parts of the experience.  One composer noted that, “it stretched and strengthened my abilities. I became more disciplined. I got out of my comfort zone. I got to learn from composers I admire, and from the three other talented young composers.” Another said, “Being able to work with all the composer-mentors, conductors, and other participant composers has been just thrilling! It’s a part of the creative process I have the least experience with—working towards a high quality performance and getting real constructive feedback.”  The singers loved it as well. One wrote “It’s always a treat to hear why the composer made the choices they did: text, phrasing, inflection, etc.  It gives so much more life to a piece!”

The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers premiered the four new pieces at the ACDA-MN State Convention last fall. Listen to these premieres.

To Commission These Composers — please note the composer’s contact information listed below. They would be thrilled to write a piece for your choir!


Emily Feld Composer
Emily Feld — Rosemount, Minnesota

Composer Mentor: Carol Barnett
Let Children Walk with Nature (SATB, a cappella with divisi)
Contact: / 218-790-4465

Emily graduated in May with a bachelor of music degree in piano performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. She has written several choral and instrumental compositions, and serves as accompanist for the Concordia College Office of Ministry. Emily is a piano teacher and has performed in several vocal and piano ensembles, including Bel Canto.


Michael Maiorana Composer
Michael Maiorana — Minneapolis, Minnesota

Composer Mentor: J. David Moore
Boil it Down! (SATB, a cappella)
Contact: / 248-854-6263

Michael has written more than two dozen compositions, including commissions by the Central Iowa Symphony and the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra. He has a Bachelor of Arts in music from Grinnell College and served as assistant conductor of the Grinnell Singers and Grinnell Oratorio Society, as well as conductor and founder of the Grinnell New Music Choir.


Liam Moore Composer
Liam Moore — St. Paul, Minnesota

Composer Mentor: Libby Larsen
In a Station of the Metro (SATB, a cappella with divisi and SAB soloists)
Contact: / 507-402-4090

Liam has composed 27 choral and instrumental pieces; he has spent 17 years as a member of various choral ensembles, eight years with orchestral ensembles, and 12 years performing popular styles of music. Liam has been commissioned by trombonist Ty Peterson and saxophonist Scottie W. Wright, and last year received an ASCAP Plus Award.


Daniel McConnell Smith Composer
Daniel McConnell Smith — St. Paul, Minnesota

Composer Mentor: Timothy C. Takach
In the Roundness of Her Eyes (SATB, a cappella)
Contact: / 763-228-7944

Daniel studied music theory and composition at the University of Minnesota Duluth and is now studying composition and songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music. His compositions include pieces for solo bassoon and string trio as well as a film trailer. His vocal experience includes ensembles at McNally Smith and the University of Minnesota Duluth.

PrintVocalEssence, American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota, and the American Composers Forum are grateful for the Jerome Foundation’s support of ReMix.