Press Release

(10-2-2008) VocalEssence & American Composers Forum announce winners of eleventh annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (October 2, 2008) – VocalEssence and the American Composers Forum are pleased to announce the two winners of the 11th annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest. This year, the contest sought new carols for chorus and French horn. Carols composed by Scott Ethier (Astoria, NY) and Peter Hilliard (Roslyn, PA) were selected from a total of 62 scores received from 25 states. In addition to having their works premiered by VocalEssence at the 2008 Welcome Christmas! concerts, each composer will receive a prize of $1,000.

“A Mother’s Carol,” by Scott Ethier (b. 1971), is a setting of a poem written by Clay Zambo. Zambo’s inspiration for the poem came from a portrait of Mary and the baby Jesus hanging in an alcove of a French church. Ethier explains, “the poem evolved into A Mother’s Carol – a meditation on the idea that even in the most ordinary human circumstances one can find the divine.” Scott Ethier is a composer and pianist who writes and performs concert works, musical theater, and jazz. His musical Rosa Parks (book and lyrics by Jeff Hughes) was commissioned by Theaterworks/USA and kicks off a tour of the United States at New York City’s Town Hall in February of 2009. He studied composition with Larry Bell, Richard Danielpour, and David del Tredici.

Peter Hilliard (b.1975) composed "Christ’s Nativity" based on a text by Henry Vaughan, a 17th century Welsh metaphysical poet. Hilliard states, “As a singer, I wrote this carol thinking of my experiences singing the great heritage of English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish choral music, and as a former horn player, I was thinking of the long, flowing lines that are so satisfying to play.” Peter currently teaches, writes, and conducts near Philadelphia. He studied with David Conte at the San Francisco Conservatory, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in composition, and with Mel Marvin at NYU, where he earned a Masters in Musical Theatre Writing. His operas and musicals are staged regularly in New York, and his choral music has been performed all over the United States and in Europe.

The new carols for 2008 will be premiered at the VocalEssence Welcome Christmas! concerts at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis (Dec. 7 and 14), Trinity Lutheran Church in Stillwater, MN (Dec. 12), and Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, MN (Dec. 13). For ticket information, call 612-371-5656 or visit Welcome Christmas! will be recorded by Minnesota Public Radio for national distribution in 2009 by American Public Media.

For additional press information, contact Jennifer Bauer, 612-547-1459 or

A Mother’s Carol: Text, program note and composer biography

Christ’s Nativity: Text, program note and composer biography