The Music

How we choose our music

We perform unusual, overlooked, or otherwise uncommon repertoire from the Middle Ages to the present day. Although we are open to discoveries of all kinds, we keep a few things in mind as we put together the Festival.

We program over 50% works by women and over 30% works by people of color overall. We did this for the first time in 2018 and had one of the most rewarding musical experiences of our lives. We believe diversity makes classical music communities stronger, and we want to be part of the change. Learn more about our composers.

For us, poetry is the heart of vocal music. We select texts with care, and given our audience, most of the pieces we choose are in English.

We look for music that resonates with the Sitka community and the Sitka landscape. That’s why many of our pieces have natural or environmental themes.

We love early music, and since many of our performers are early music specialists, you’ll be sure to find Baroque, Renaissance, and medieval gems on our programs every year.

We see it as part of our mission to support living composers. Connecting with composers as friends and colleagues means that we can often share their stories with our audiences.

Commissions

Every year, we commission and premiere a setting of an Alaskan poem. Commissioning helps us create new works that are specifically meaningful to the Sitka community.

2017: “The Stone Harp,” music by Conrad Winslow, poem by former Alaska poet laureate John Meade Haines. Listen here.

2018:  “The Edge of a Season,” music by Jonathan Woody, poem by author, educator, and longtime Sitkan Carolyn Servid. Watch and listen here.

2019: “Storyteller,” music by composer TBD, poem by Ishmael Angaluuk Hope


Composer Competition

Every year, we premiere the winners of our Composer Competition. We accept submissions with English text for SATB quartet and optional accompaniment. There is no fee, and winners receive a cash prize and professional live recording. Our next competition will open in 2019.

2017: “When Lost in the Forest,” music by Joelle Wallach, poem by David Wagoner

2018: “Night Meadow,” music by Carlos Cordero, poem by Seán Mac Falls; “In Those Years No One Slept,” by Rich Campbell, poem by Claudia Serea.