Dr. John Orfe wins 2011 National Commissioning Competition

November 17, 2011

Orfe will compose a new piece for the Choral Arts Ensemble's 2012-13 season.

By Ivy Hillman '12

On October 29 Dr. John Orfe, associate professor of music, received an email from Michael Culloton, the artistic director of the Choral Arts Ensemble. The message was to inform Orfe that he had won the 2011 National Commissioning Competition and was invited to compose a piece for the CAE's 2012-13 season. Orefe was ecstatic.

"When an announcement like this happens to you, it's a real encouragement. The message I take from this prize is 'You're doing good work - keep it up!' It's very sincerely appreciated," Orfe said.

The piece that Orfe will write for the CAE will be five minutes long and a capella. The ensemble's October concert will be mostly sacred music, while the May concert will be madrigals. Orfe is already working to prepare himself to write the piece.

"I've been listening to CDs by the CAE to get its sound in my ear. Right now I'm spending a lot of time with poetry, ranging from sonnets by Shakespeare to verses by Illinois poet Mark Liebenow," Orfe said.

Orfe embraces any opportunity to write for choirs.

"Since beginning my appointment at Bradley, I've had some really phenomenal opportunities to compose for massed voices. Dr. John Jost and the Bradley Chorale have been very supportive of my music," Orfe said.

For the contest, Orfe submitted "O Crux," a motet for a capella choir and solo trombone. It was a co-commission from the Two Rivers Chorale and the Northwestern College Choir. Earlier this year it won a national composition competition from the Eastern Trombone Workshop. In May of 2012, it will be performed in Fort Myer, Va.

Though Orfe already has many awards under his belt, this one offers him something new.

"This award gives me a new opportunity to unite text with music as I re-explore the palette of choral sound-color. At the same time, I get the privilege of building a new relationship with an excellent vocal ensemble," Orfe said.