Press Release

October 25, 2006: American Composers Forum, VocalEssence announce winners of ninth annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest

VocalEssence News
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katryn Conlin, 612-547-1459

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (October 25, 2006) – VocalEssence and the American Composers Forum are pleased to announce the two winners of the ninth annual Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest. This year, the contest sought new carols for chorus and guitar. Carols composed by Diego Luzuriaga (Ardmore, Pennsylvania) and John Rommereim (Grinnell, Iowa) were selected from a total of 97 scores received from 29 states. In addition to having their works premiered by VocalEssence at the 2006 Welcome Christmas! concerts, each composer will receive a prize of $1,000.

John Rommereim composed “Calm On the Listening Ear of Night” based on an 1834 poem by Edmund Sears (well known for his poem, “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear”). Rommereim states, “The poem depicts the Christmas landscape with fresh and surprising imagery, from ‘wild Judea’ to the ‘blue depths of Gallilee’.” The piece emulates early American music with open harmonies and strong text accents. A professor of music at Grinnell College in Iowa, Rommereim is also founder of the Baroque Orchestra of Iowa and is currently at work on several commissioned pieces for choir, organ and recorder. He holds degrees from St. Olaf College, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the University of Kansas.

Diego Luzuriaga’s “Un Nacimiento” (A Nativity Scene) has both music and lyrics by the composer. With its Latin American flavor, the carol captures the beauty and calm of an Ecuadorian ‘coplas’ (folksong). Luzuriaga was born in Loja, Ecuador, and studied at the Quito Conservatory, the École Normale in Paris, the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University in New York. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 and has received commissions from ensembles and orchestras spanning the globe.

The new carols for 2006 will be premiered at the VocalEssence Welcome Christmas! concerts at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis on December 3 and 10 (4 pm); St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi on December 7 (7:30 pm); and Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina on December 9 (7:30 pm). For ticket information, call 612-624-2345 or visit Welcome Christmas! will be recorded by Minnesota Public Radio for national distribution in 2007 by American Public Media.

For additional press information, contact Katryn Conlin, VocalEssence Communications Director at or 612-547-1459.


Welcome Christmas! Carol Contest ~ winners to date

2005: Carols with solo cello: Jocelyn Hagen, Paul Gibson
2004: Carols with solo recorder: Keith Bradshaw, James Sclater
2003: Carols with a solo instrument: Alan Higbee, Thomas Fielding
2002: Carols with percussion: Mary Lynn Place Badarak, Paul Lohman
2001: Carols with string orchestra: Clive Muncaster, Sergey Khvoshchinsky
2000: Carols with harp: Brian Holmes, Emily Maxson Porter
1999: Carols for the audience to sing: Robert A.M. Ross, Jonathan Santore
1998: A capella carols: Joan Griffith, Richard Voorhaar

About American Composers Forum
The American Composers Forum is committed to supporting composers and developing new markets for their music. Through granting, commissioning, and performance programs, the Forum provides composers at all stages of their careers with valuable resources for professional and artistic development. For more information on the Forum, visit

About VocalEssence
Founded in 1969 as the Plymouth Music Series, VocalEssence explores the interaction of voices and instruments through innovative programming of music, past and present. VocalEssence has been recognized by ASCAP for its adventurous programming of contemporary music with five awards and has been honored with the Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence. For additional information visit


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