In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Joan Szymko (b.1957) was born in Chicago into a family that placed a high value on education and the arts - especially music. She studied choral conducting and music education at the University of Illinois (Urbana, 1978). Immediately following graduation, she moved to the Pacific Northwest where she began composing choral music to fill the repertoire needs of the church and women's choirs she directed in Seattle, WA in the 1980's.
Szymko moved to Portland, Oregon in 1993 upon the invitation to lead Aurora Chorus, a 100+ voice community women's chorus, which she continues to serve as Artistic Director. Szymko founded a select women's choir, Viriditas Vocal Ensemble in 1994. Leading Viriditas served as inspiration, as she composed prolifically during her years leading this group (1994-2002). Equally inspiring was her collaboration with Robin Lane and Do Jump! Movement Theater. She has been a resident composer with Do Jump! since 1995, performing her music with the company at their home theater in Portland and on tour, including runs on Broadway, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
Abundant lyricism, rhythmic integrity and vigorous attention to text are hallmarks of Joan Szymko's diverse and distinctive choral writing. Fresh and inspiring, her text selections are as notable as her music. Especially significant is Szymko’s contribution to the body of literature for women’s voices. With over sixty published octavos in print, her music is sung by distinguished choral ensembles across the country and abroad including the IFCM World Symposium on Choral Music (Kyoto) and at four consecutive National Conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. The ACDA has recognized Szymko's contribution to choral arts in America by selecting her as the recipient of the 2010 Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission. The resulting piece, "All Works of Love" was premiered at all seven regional conferences of the ACDA in the spring of 2010.
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Review: Since Portland OR's Aurora Chorus-women in harmony for peace, was founded by David York in 1992, it has provided both novice and experienced singers the opportunity to transform a love of singing into an outstanding ensemble experience. Aurora welcomes singers at all skill levels, without competitive auditions, and maintains a membership of over 100 singers. Led by director and composer Joan Symko (Aurora has premiered over 30 of her compositions and arrangements), the ensemble produces two major concerts, and performs at several community outreach events every year. Singer, songwriter and performing/recording artist Betsy Rose joins the group in the 19 songs on "Full Circle." Some favorites are Betsy's "Open Up and Let Her Through," "A Circle of Women Singing" and "Welcome to the Circle," Joan's "The Summer Day" and "I AM," the Shaker tune "Come Pretty Love," Diane Benjamin's "Somebody," Cris Williamson's "Sister," David York's "Aurora" and Beatrice Johnson Reagon's "Well, Enough Said About That!" There is some light accompaniment of piano, cello, violin, flute, bazouki, hand drums and percussion. All the cuts are beautiful, deeply-felt pieces that touch and move us-come join Aurora's joyous 10th Anniversary celebration!
Songlist: Open Up and Let Her Through, Come Pretty Love, The Summer Day, I Am, Woman Am I, Welcome To The Circle, Somebody, Sister, Miriam, Against the Wind, Aurora, Yo Le Canto Todo El Dia, Take Heart, How Can I Keep From Singing, Prayer For The Warriors, Well Enough Said About That!, Listening , Coloring Outside The Lines, A Circle Of Woman Singing
Review: "Solstice!" is a live recording of a very special concert recorded on the winter's solstice, December 21, 2003. The women of Aurora , which means "new dawn," take us "deep into the heart of winter" and back into the light-a powerful journey into the land of the soul. The 100-strong women's chorus, founded in 1992 by David York and led by director and prolific composer Joan Symko since 1994, has created a new tradition of presenting truly inclusive holiday concerts that nurture and delight their audiences. There are 22 songs here, the first 16 from the "Solstice!" concert, and the final 6 "Winter Favorites," which are bonus tracks from past winter concerts. Favorites are Linda Hirschhorn's "Solstice/Chanukah Chant," Rick Hamouris' "We Are a Circle," Anne Bearheart's "Solstice Chant," Susan Osborn's "Take Back the Night," David York's "Solstice," Charlie Murphy's "Light is Returning," Dar Williams' "The Christians and the Pagans," the traditional South African tune "We've Got the Power," Betsy Rose's "Carry It Home," Judy Fjell's "In the Winter," Claudia Schmidt's "Rock that Sucker," Peter Schickele (PDQ Bach)'s "Good King Kong Looked Out," and (Peter, Paul & Mary's) Peter Yarrow's classic "Light One Candle." There is some light accompaniment of piano, guitar, flute, percussion and rhythm ensemble. These are all powerful tunes that move and inspire us-perfect for helping us in the transition from the dark of winter into the light!
Songlist: Solstice/ Chanukah Chant, We Are A Circle, Benedicta Es, Lady of the Season's Laughter, Solstice Chant, Take Back The Night, Solstice, Kore Evohe, In Dulci Jubilo/ Pentatonic Alleluia, Light Is Returning, The Longest Night, The Christians and The Pagans, This Little Light of Mine, Return Again, We've Got The Power, Carry It Home, Red And Green, In The Winter, Rock That Sucker, Good King Kong Looked Out, Light One Candle, Auld Lang Syne
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