Chor Leoni bass Paul Birch recently had a conversation with composer Zachary Wadsworth and is all set to recruit him.
“I’ve found someone who would be a perfect fit for Chor Leoni! He’s got a really strong musical background, he’s congenial and engaging, and he sings tenor. One problem is, however, that although he’s technically Canadian, he’s also American and at present he’s living in New York City.
His name is Zachary Wadsworth and he’s up to his ears in composing commissions for a stunning array of organizations around the world. He’s composed orchestral and vocal music which has been performed in the Kennedy Center in Washington, Takinogawa Hall in Tokyo, Westminster Abbey (Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance). He’s been in residence for the Metropolitan Opera and the Santa Fe Opera, and he’s won more first prizes and international awards than can be counted without taking his socks off. He’s also Chor Leoni’s recently appointed Composer-in-Residence!
Zach has degrees from Yale, Cornell, and the Eastman School of Music and he’s taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the University of Calgary. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Williams College in Massachusetts but is on sabbatical while he concentrates on further composition.
This is not a bad record for someone who has only been in the music business for a little more than twenty years. Although his parents are both musical performers, he didn’t start taking piano lessons until he was about twelve years old. Soon after that, a fellow who lived down the street from him challenged him to try writing some music. It was obviously an inspired suggestion. He hasn’t stopped since and now has so many commissions on hand that he doesn’t have time to ponder what he’ll do next. He’s barely reached his mid-thirties and has already established himself as a leading composer of his generation.
When Erick Lichte approached him with the idea of creating a new work for Chor Leoni, he had already heard of the choir. The stirring poetry that provides the words for the oratorio appealed to Zach on an emotional level, but it is clear from the final result that he doesn’t allow himself to be swept away in a tide of sentiment. There is obviously mental discipline and thoughtful consideration that supports the structure of the result of this commission When There Is Peace. As a choir, we are honoured to benefit from this conjunction of a significant historical anniversary (the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended WWI) and an amazingly gifted composer.
He will spend a few days with us in November when he comes to Vancouver for the premiere of the work. It’s exciting to know that the CBC will be broadcasting the performance across Canada so that the entire nation will be able to share in what promises to be a deeply moving experience.
Save a chair in the tenor section. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to persuade Zach to pay us more than a flying visit!”