A conversation with Mary Montgomery Koppel

Mary Montgomery Koppel is the Boston-based composer 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.

How did you choose to write "Dawn" in the way you did?
When Rachel asked me to write a piece for Six Degree Singers, I immediately jumped into the process of choosing a text. She and I were tossing around a couple of ideas when I stumbled upon Dawn by William Carlos Williams. I have set many poems by WCW, and wanted to branch out ... but the poem is amazing and I couldn't walk away from it! I was drawn to its beauty and color, as I always am with his work, but this poem struck me with its unrelenting energy and vigor. That energy propelled my own writing.

What is your favorite thing about the piece you wrote?
This is a hard question to answer — on the one hand, humility keeps me from wanting to point out strengths, and on the other hand, having worked painstakingly on a piece, I should have an end result that I am excited about in its entirety! I will say, however, that I very much look forward to hearing the choir gradually expand into rich, lush chords at a couple of climactic points — on words like "sky" and "horizon." Those chords are the result of attention to intervallic construction as well as aural inspiration, and it will be fun to hear them unfold in the voices.