Monthly Archives: March 2014

Guest Composer Dawn Sonntag to Appear at Youngstown State University

composer Dawn Sontag

Composer Dawn Lenore Sonntag, Assistant Professor of Music at Hiram College and a member of the Cleveland Composers Guild, will be guest composer at the New Music Society’s Annual Spring Concerts, March 26-28. She is a composer, singer, pianist, and conductor and holds degrees from the University of Minnesota, Ohio State University, Hochschule für Kirchenmusik, Heidelberg, and University of Texas, El Paso. Her works will be performed at the Butler Institute of American Art Noon Hour Concert, on Wednesday, March 26, at the 8:00 p.m. Bliss Recital Hall program the same day, and at 11:00 a.m. on Friday March 28 at the Dana School of Music Bliss Recital Hall Convocation.

Composer’s Website:

She will be accompanied by pianist Karen Murphy, who has extensive experience performing in Minnesota, Arizona, on commercial recordings, and in premiering new works. Also performing will be flutist/oboist Paul Dreisbach, who teaches woodwinds at Hiram, and cellist Stephen Wagner, who is also a Kodàly pedagogical technique specialist.

Sonntag’s works encompass vocal, choral, orchestral, dance, and film music and have been performed across the U.S. and Europe. Her choral music has been performed by university, community and church choirs in the U.S. and Germany. Her first opera, Verlorene Heimat, will be premiered at Hiram College this April. Upcoming commissions include a work for Chinese instruments and chorus for the Orchid Ensemble, a Vancouver-based Chinese music trio, and an opera in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Augsburg College.

In 2010 Sonntag was selected as MTNA Ohio’s Distinguished Composer of the Year. Sonntag’s interest in Norwegian Art Song led to a Foreign Language Area Studies Fellowship to study advanced Norwegian in Oslo, Norway, and she was a composer in residence at the Visby International Center for Composers in 2013, and has been invited to return in 2015. An avid alpine hiker, Sonntag will premiere a new chamber work a new chamber work this summer at the Fairbanks Arts Festival as a participant of Composers in the Wilderness program.

The Youngstown State University events will focus on Sonntag’s chamber music for voice and instruments and will demonstrate her extensive experience in setting English texts and those translated from Swedish. She will also perform a collection of her settings of the Romantic poet Christina Rossetti, as will be settings of Twentieth Century poets Sarah Teasdale, Karin Boye, and Marvin Bell. A version of 19th Century American poet Walt Whitman’s Come Up from the Fields, Father will also appear.

New Music Society

Violinists Brendan and Karen Considine will perform Youngstown composer Richard Zacharias’ It’s My Turn to Have the Evening Off. The title refers to the couple’s busy musical life, which vies for attention with their active upbringing of three lovely children. Zacharias, an avid concertgoer and member of the New Music Guild, Inc., has generously supported New Music and other Dana events for years.

Clocks in Motion

Clocks in Motion to Visit Youngstown State University and Butler North

Clocks in Motion, press photo -

Clocks in Motion, an exceptional professional percussion ensemble made up of musicians who are either graduates or current students at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, will visit Youngstown on Monday March 17th under the auspices of the New Music Society and the YSU Percussion Studio. Dr. Anthony DiSanza, an alumnus of the Dana School of Music, originally sponsored the ensemble when it first started among his current and former students. The ensemble will be in residence at the Butler North, a wonderful performance space, and will present a percussion workshop from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.


The main event of the day is the evening concert at 8:00 p.m. in Butler North. The ensemble will play several interesting compositions. Marc Mellits‘ new mallet quintet, Gravity, was commissioned in part by Clocks in Motion in 2013. The piece features Mellits’ pop-minimalistic style with driving rhythms and lush harmonies. The sectional work builds in intensity, resulting in a dramatic and satisfying ending.

Herbert Brün’s 1974 composition, At Loose Ends, utilizes a bizarre instrumentation including quarimba (a microtonal marimba built by Clocks in Motion members), xylophones, twelve snare drums, wooden boxes, slapsticks, flexitones, tam-tams, timpani, cymbals, tuned cowbells, and a virtuosic pianoforte part. As the title suggests, this piece serves as a loose collection of small yet intriguing compositional ideas.

Allhallows, by John Jeffrey Gibbens is a major three-movement work commissioned by Clocks in Motion in 2012. The ensemble will again showcase the quarimba, as well as the galvitone (eighty-eight microtonal pipes built by Clocks in Motion members), vibraphone, twelve tuned gongs, and pianoforte. Gibbens was inspired by his impressions of All Saints Day and the changing seasons. He employs a fascinating harmonic scheme and complex rhythms in this enchanting piece.

Charles Wuorinen’s Percussion Quartet, composed in 1994, is a fast-paced, virtuosic piece for a variety of tuned and unturned percussion instruments. Woods, metals, drums, and keyboard percussion clash in this physically demanding and, at times, violent work.

Hailed as “nothing short of remarkable,” Clocks in Motion is a group that performs new music, builds many of its own instruments, and breaks down the boundaries of the traditional concert program. Founded in 2011 and appointed more recently as Ensemble-in-Residence at the University of Wisconsin, Madison,
the group served in recent years as resident performers and educators at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Casper College, Rhapsody Arts Center, University of Michigan, Baldwin-Wallace University, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Arts.