Katherine Bodor wins Fourth Annual Young Composers Competition

Six Degree Singers is thrilled to announce the winning selection for its 2016 Young Composers Competition — ”Homage to Ourania”, a composition by Katherine Bodor.

"Newly-composed music is an important staple of our concert programming and our annual Young Composers Competition is a great way to showcase exciting young talent — plus we love helping to bring more choral music into the world," says Rachel Carlson, Artistic Director for the Six Degree Singers.

This year’s Young Composers Competition was built off Six Degree Singers’ upcoming concert series theme, ‘Nine Greek Muses.' Composers were encouraged to select one of the nine Greek muses as the inspiration for their submission. The aptly named ”Homage to Ourania” honors Ourania, who is regarded as the muse of astrology.

“I have always felt deeply stirred when looking up at the night sky,” Bodor told us. “There is something about realizing how small you are in comparison to the vast universe that spurs one to live a more purposeful life.”

Musically, ”Homage to Ourania” evokes reverence not only for the sky, but also the Greeks themselves. Inspired loosely by the Seiklos epitaph, the oldest surviving music composition, Bodor used modal themes to convey an element of Ancient Greece in her piece. While composers were permitted to use existing poetry or lyrics for their submissions, Bodor opted to use an original poem as the basis for her piece — a risk with pros and cons.

“The advantage to setting my own poem to music is that I could pick words and word orders that contain strings of textural consonants or vowels that would be enjoyable for a singer,” she said. “However, since I am so close to the text, I can't take it and say something new with its music … I would love to see how another composer would set my words and what new interpretations they would have.”

Bodor is currently a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She is seeking dual degrees in mechanical engineering and music, and as a result of such a strenuous course load, we suspect she’ll soon be seeking a few extra hours of sleep once she graduates this month.

The world premiere of ”Homage to Ourania” will take place during Six Degree Singers’ spring concert series, ‘Nine Greek Muses’, with performances scheduled on June 4 and 5, 2016. This year marks Six Degree Singers’ Fourth Annual Young Composers Competition, open to all composers ages 18-40.

Meet our new members

This spring we welcomed a new crop of people to join the ranks of Six Degree Singers. Twelve vibrant singers auditioned for us on a cold February night. After a thoughtful deliberation, we invited six of those singers to join our ranks. We'd like to take a minute to introduce these fine people to you.

Arnold McNeal - Bass
Arnold is a resident of Germantown, Maryland and spends his days working as a paraeducator with children with special needs. When he's not making the world a better place, he enjoys enjoys traveling around the globe.

Mike Held - Bass
Mike is a graduate of James Madison University and was a member of The Madison Project, the premier a capella group at JMU. Mike is an IT professional when he’s not singing in SDS.

Benjamin Groves - Bass
Benjamin, like half of our new singers, is a scientist. He comes to SDS from the west coast. He also plays piano and tuba. Benjamin routinely has the choir in stitches with his deadpan humor and dry delivery.

Robert Bruce - Tenor
Robert is another of our crop of scientists. He just moved to the Washington, D.C. area from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he was part of a chorus called Cantari.

Libbi Rivera - Soprano
Libbi is one of our two sopranos. She is a recent graduate of University Delaware and currently teaches music in Howard County.

Jean Ennis - Soprano
Jean is a pharmacist from Buffalo. After spending time in Florida and northern Pennsylvania, she settled in the Washington, D.C. area. An avid cyclist, Jean often rides bikes with her husband around the DMV.

The six new members add an invaluable amount of vocal experience and attitude. We can’t wait for you to meet them in person at our spring concert series, Nine Greek Muses!


A conversation with Mary Montgomery Koppel

Mary Montgomery Koppel is the Boston-based computer behind "Dawn," commissioned for our Sixth Anniversary concert series. Mary is the composer-in-residence for Lorelei Ensemble, a group of nine professional female singers. She is embarking on an opera for Juventas New Music Ensemble for their 2016-2017 season. Mary also teaches composition and theory at the Walnut Hill School for the Arts and Boston University.

A conversation with David Archer

David Archer is a Vancouver, B.C.-based composer, and he's the winner of our 2015 Young Composers Competition! We're excited to debut his piece "Flame and Shadow," at our upcoming concerts. By day, David works part-time gigs and is the communications coordinator for the British Columbia Choral Federation, which is responsible for promoting choral singing in the province.