Everyone is invited to the Choir Cantata, presented by The KPC Adult Choir directed by Jean Volk, on Sunday, April 29, during our worship service. The Prelude, Cantata anthems, and the Offertory were all written by contemporary women composers, including Natalie Sleeth, Mary E. Caldwell, Harriet Ziegenhals, Amy Tate Williams, Ruth Elaine Schram, Amy Marcy Beach, and Alice Parker.
Contemporary Women Composers and Their KPC Choir Compositions
Renowned composer Natalie Sleeth (1930-1992) wrote the first and last selections of the Choir Cantata. The worship service will begin with “Hymn of Promise” as the Prelude and the celebratory “Joy in the Morning” will conclude the Cantata. Majoring in music theory, Ms. Sleeth graduated from Wellesley College in 1952. In 1965, Ms. Sleeth became the director of the children’s choirs at Highland Park Methodist Church. Encouraged by Lloyd Pfautsch (under whom she studied at Southern Methodist University) and Jane Marshall, Natalie began arranging music in 1968. As a musician and a poet, Natalie wrote both the words and music for all her songs. At the time of her death, Natalie had written over 180 published songs for church and school choirs. Natalie once remarked, “I’m having the time of my life,” and it is clear that she succeeded in communicating this feeling to the countless singers, musicians, and music‑lovers who know her music.
Mary E. Caldwell (1909-2003) – Spring Prayer
Mary Elizabeth Caldwell was educated at UC Berkeley, with further study at the Munich Conservatory and the Juilliard School. A church organist for over fifty years, many of her hundreds of published works were written for various choirs ranging from youth to adult, with voicings ranging from unison to complex divisi SATB. She was one of the first composers to explore the rich folk carol tradition. Several such arrangements were chosen by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for their earliest recordings in the late fifties. Her works have been the subject of both a Masters and Doctoral dissertation and she has been listed in Who’s Who of American Women since 1967.
Harriet Ziegenhals (1925-2016) – You Shall Have a Song
Harriet Louise Ilse Ziegenhals was born in Cleveland, Ohio; her father was a Lutheran minister and choir director, and her mother was a contralto soloist. Even as a small girl, she wrote, “The five minutes during which the choir sang each Sunday seemed like magic to me.” Harriet graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and served on the faculty. She received a Master of Sacred Music degree from Union Theological Seminary, where she also met and married Walter Ziegenhals. Upon graduation, Harriet and Walter shared in chaplain and pastoral ministry in East Harlem in New York, a Naval Jet Air Base in Texas, and Cleveland’s inner-city. She sang under Robert Shaw for 18 years in New York City and Cleveland, and worked in church, school, and community, serving as music teacher, director, organist, worship and workshop leader, lecturer, composer and arranger. She published a number of anthems, hymns, and contemporary songs.
Amy Tate Williams (b. 1964) – Only Jesus
Amy Tate Williams serves as Chorus Master and Accompanist for Nashville Opera, accompanying all productions and promotional events, casting and preparing the opera choruses and coaching principal and apprentice artists (1998-present). She also serves as Opera Director for the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts (2003-present) where she creates, casts, blocks, choreographs and accompanies a 60 min. costumed production. A native of Bowling Green, Kentucky, Amy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Western Kentucky University and Master’s Degrees in Piano Performance and Piano Accompanying from Florida State University. Amy lives in Brentwood, TN with her husband Randy and their son Tate.
Alice Parker (b. 1925) – I Need Thee Every Hour
Alice Parker, internationally renowned composer, conductor and teacher, studied composition and conducting at Smith College and the Juilliard School where she began her long association with Robert Shaw. The many Parker/Shaw settings of American folksongs, hymns and spirituals from that period form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world.
Her list of published compositions has over five hundred titles, ranging from operas through song cycles, cantatas and choral suites to many individual anthems. Now a resident of western Massachusetts, Parker has published books on melodic styles, choral improvisation and church music. In 2013 she received the Robert Shaw Award from the American Choral Directors Association and in 2015 the Harvard Glee Club Foundation Medal. Named Distinguished Composer of the Year 2000 by the American Guild of Organists, she is also a Fellow of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada. She is the recipient of six honorary doctorates and the Smith College Medal as well as grants from ASCAP, the National Endowment for the Arts, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and the American Music Center.
Ruth Elaine Schram (b. 1956) – When You Call
Ruth Elaine Schram wrote her first song at the age of twelve, and her first octavo was published twenty years later, in 1988. In 1992, she became a full-time composer and arranger and now has over 2,000 published works. Her songs have also appeared on such diverse television shows as “The 700 Club” and HBO’s acclaimed series “The Sopranos.” Ruthie began piano and theory lessons at the age of five. She studied music at Lancaster Bible College and Millersville State College and taught Elementary Music in Pennsylvania for several years. She now lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, Scott Schram and they have two grown daughters, Crystie and Celsie.
Mrs. H.H.A. Beach (1867-1944) – With Prayer and Supplication
Amy Marcy Beach, néeAmy Marcy Cheney, married name Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, was an American pianist and composer known for her Piano Concerto (1900) and her Gaelic Symphony (1894), the first symphony by an American woman composer. She began taking piano lessons at age six, although she had been composing simple melodies on the keyboard since age four. In October 1883, at the age of 16, she gave her first public recital at Boston Music Hall. Several more successful recitals followed, and in March 1885 she played the Chopin Piano Concerto in F Minor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In December 1885 she married Henry H.A. Beach, an eminent surgeon, Harvard University professor, and devoted amateur musician who encouraged his wife to concentrate on composition. In February 1892 she heard the Boston Symphony and the Handel and Haydn Society perform her Mass in E-flat (written 1890), her first major work (numbered Opus 5) and the first by a woman to be performed by those organizations. Mrs. H.H.A. Beach, as she was known, was by far the preeminent woman composer in the United States, and her more than 150 numbered works, nearly all of which were published, also included choral works, church music, chamber works, cantatas, and songs to words of Shakespeare, Robert Burns, and Robert Browning.
Karen Lafferty (b.1948) – Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
Offertory – presented by our Intergenerational Tone Chime choir.
While on tour, Lafferty noted how popular American music was, even though, for most professional American musicians, touring Europe was not financially viable. In response she founded a nonprofit, Musicians for Missions, in 1981, which sought to train young Christian musicians for mission tours where they could perform live shows. She later moved to Amsterdam to direct the organization.
Dorothy Wells (1926-2008)
Dorothy Wells attended Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in piano and organ. In 1964, Dorothy joined the Lorenz editorial team. Her responsibilities included serving as the editor of Lorenz’s popular bi‑monthly magazine, The Organ Portfolio, as well as compiling, arranging and composing music for Lorenz Publishing Co. Dorothy was a member of Fairmont Presbyterian Church where she served as a trustee and a deacon. She was the organist at Fairmont Presbyterian Church, Faith Lutheran Church and St. Paul Lutheran Church, in the Dayton area. Dorothy lived in Kettering, Ohio, with her husband, Mark.