About this project:

A consortium of ensembles to commission two SATB choral works on poems by Dana Gioia by Thomas LaVoy and Sarah Rimkus

·  One work by Dr. LaVoy and one work by Dr. Rimkus
·  Both unaccompanied SATB choir, c. 3 to 5 minutes, moderate difficulty (some divisi)
·  Ensembles can sign up through July 25, 2019
·  Delivery of both pieces on August 1st 2019
·  For performance anytime during the 2019-2020 season (August 2019 through June 2020), separately or together
· The commission fee is $500, payable to Sarah Rimkus and Thomas LaVoy. $100 will be payable on signing, $400 on delivery.

Ensembles will receive:

· Premiere and recording rights to both pieces through June 30, 2020
· Rights to perform the works in perpetuity
· Ensembles will receive detailed information on the poems and blog updates during the compositional process
· Updates will be made public soon after the pieces have been delivered, available for use as promotional material for the ensembles
· Composers will be available for Skype sessions in rehearsals

Thomas will be setting “The Stars now rearrange themselves…”

Sarah will be setting “The Burning Ladder

About the words:

Words are at the center of all vocal and choral music. As composers, a large part of our creative process with any piece involving the human voice takes place before a note of music is written: searching, selecting, analyzing, and sometimes compiling or editing texts and poems. This process should produce a relationship between the words and the music that is greater than the sum of its parts – all elements should work together in collaboration to produce something entirely new.

Dana Gioia is no stranger to collaboration with composers and embraces the relationship between words and music: “Unlike most poets, I think of my verse in musical and auditory terms, so my sensibility is similar to a musician's.” We are both attracted to the musicality of Dana’s work, always featuring a keen sense of rhythm and often using particular meters, rhyme schemes or forms. In some ways, it is quite traditional. However, his poems never feel old or imitative in any way – the imagery and themes and the way these are coupled with his language are always contemporary and fresh. He often writes about the vast, stark landscapes of the American wilderness on a grand scale, as well as more intimate thoughts and internal conflict and questioning. We are honored to have him as a supportive collaborator, and we look forward to bringing his poetry to life for all of you through these musical works.

–Sarah and Thomas

(L to R) Thomas LaVoy, Dana Gioia, Sarah Rimkus

(L to R) Thomas LaVoy, Dana Gioia, Sarah Rimkus


To express your interest in the Scattered Light Consortium, please fill out the form below.

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About the poet:

Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet. Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia is a native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. Gioia recently served as the Poet Laureate of California. Gioia has published five full-length collections of poetry, most recently 99 Poems: New & Selected. His poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award, and 99 Poems won the 2018 Poet’s Prize. An influential critic as well, Gioia’s 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter?, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with helping to revive the role of poetry in American public culture. In 2014 he won the Aiken-Taylor Award for lifetime achievement in American poetry.

As Chairman of the NEA from 2003 to 2009, Gioia succeeded in garnering enthusiastic bi-partisan support in the United States Congress for the mission of the Arts Endowment, as well as in strengthening the national consensus in favor of public funding for the arts and arts education. Business Week Magazine referred to him as “The Man who Saved the NEA.”

Gioia has been the recipient of ten honorary degrees. He has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Laetare Medal from Notre Dame. He and his wife, Mary, have two sons. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California.