2016-2017 Season Composers


James Kallembach

James Kallembach’s chamber music and choral works have been performed throughout the United States and Canada, from San Diego to Chicago to New York. He has received honors from ASCAP, ACDA, American Composers’ Forum, Pacific Chorale, ALEA III in Boston, and VocalEssence, whose Welcome Christmas concert featured his carol, That Yönge Child in a nationally syndicated radio broadcast. His Anne Bradstreet Songs for soprano and cello have been widely performed since their premiere in 2011. James has written extensively for the voice, including a catalogue of dozens of individual choral works, several song cycles, and his St. John Passion for strings, soloists, and choir.

While permeated by a deeper layer of symbolic meaning and musical structure, his music is immediately accessible to audiences and performers alike, often being described as lyrical, beautiful, and moving; challenging, yet well suited to the voice or instrument. As a conductor, James has performed a vast amount of the canonic literature of all periods, including all of the major oratorios of J.S. Bach. His music is in perpetual dialogue with great music of the past, and often centers on the quest for spiritual meaning, such as his large choral works Ave Maria and The Quest of the Holy Grail. Many of his recent and current projects also explore the emotional content and meaning found in American history, such as his Songs on Letters of John and Abigail Adams, the Anne Bradstreet Songs, choral and solo vocal works based on texts in George Halpert’s 1938 New England folksong archive, and his current work on an opera based on the trial of the Puritan Anne Hutchinson. A tireless advocate of new choral works, James has conducted the premiere of works by William Bolcom, Marta Ptaszynska, Sven-David Sandström, Robert Moran, Shulamit Ran, Robert Kyr, and James MacMillan among many others, including emerging composers.

His interpretation of new music has been heralded as “rich and polished” (Chicago Classical Review). Highlights in addition to his conducting activities include serving as artistic director for the Sounds of Faith documentary concert aired on Chicago PBS, lecturing at the Oregon Bach Festival and conducting new works at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers’ Symposium, and articles for Opera News and Choral Journal. James serves as director of choral activities and senior lecturer in music at the University of Chicago, where he conducts three choirs and programs and conducts the Quire and Place concert series at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.



Shawn Kirchner

Shawn Kirchner is a composer/arranger active in the musical circles of Los Angeles whose choral works are performed throughout the world. In 2012, he was appointed Swan Family Composer in Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. His three-year term was marked by the Disney Hall premieres of Plath Songs (2013), Inscapes (2014), and Songs of Ascent (2015).  His residency was the culmination of an ongoing creative partnership with Master Chorale artistic director Grant Gershon marked by the commissions and/or premieres of Tu voz (2007), Memorare (2009), Heavenly Home (2010), and Behold New Joy (2011). These works have all since entered the wider choral repertory. In 2015, Tu voz was featured in Conspirare’s Grammy-nominated recording “Pablo Neruda: The Poet Sings,” and Heavenly Home, praised in the LA Times as “arranged with mastery,” has received numerous performances by leading choirs throughout the country. Kirchner is best known world-wide for his setting of the Kenyan song Wana Baraka, which was featured in a performance by the Nairobi Chamber Choir in the Diamond Jubilee celebration for Her Majesty Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle in 2012. His original songwriting ranges in style from jazz and gospel to folk and bluegrass, the latter featured on his CD Meet Me on the Mountain. Kirchner's music is published by Boosey & Hawkes, Oxford University Press, Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and Shawn Kirchner Publishing (available at www.shawnkirchner.com).

Kirchner has sung with the LA Master Chorale since 2001, performing/recording with the Chorale and the LA Philharmonic in collaborations with leading conductors and composers including Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Zubin Mehta, John Adams, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Kaija Saariaho, Anders Hillborg, David Lang, and Meredith Monk. Kirchner has also sung on soundtracks for several dozen feature films including Avatar, Frozen, The Lorax, Minions, and the X-men series, and was music director for the 2004 CBS Christmas Special “Enter the Light of Life.”  As a pianist, he is active in recitals, chamber music, jazz, and church music.

Kirchner was raised with his triplet brother and sister in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where his musicianship was shaped through intensive piano study with Joan Smalley and George Katz. His principal creative mentors are the poet/songwriter Steve Kinzie and choral composer/arranger Alice Parker. He earned a BA in Peace Studies from Manchester College and a MA in Choral Conducting from the University of Iowa, studying with William Hatcher, Richard Bloesch, and Donald Jenni.


Mary Montgomery Koppel

Mary Montgomery Koppel is a sought-after composer of choral, vocal, chamber, and orchestral works. Praised for her “luxuriant choral writing” and “myriad coloristic sonorities,” she writes in a compositional language that is both richly complex and contrapuntally refined, while remaining both aurally accessible and challenging. MMK was a founding member and the first composer-in-residence of the Lorelei Ensemble. Since Lorelei’s founding in 2007, she has contributed eight new works to the repertoire for women’s voices, spanning five seasons and numerous concerts throughout the United States. Performers praise MMK for her understanding of the voice, utilizing the full capacity of the instrument in "idiomatic lines of surprising yet natural contour." Recent commissions include Dawn for Six Degree Singers, Stabat Mater Speciosa for the Harvard University Choir, and Horizons for Su Lian Tan and John McDonald, released on the album GRAND THEFT and other felonies (ARSIS Audio, 2013). 

MMK is also an educator, music director, and soprano. She teaches composition and music history at Gordon College, and music theory at Boston University. Before moving to the Boston area in 2006, she taught at Bennington College, where she founded and conducted the Bennington College Chamber Singers. Her music direction includes work at MASSMoCA and HERE in New York. She holds a D.M.A. from the Boston University School of Music, a B.A. from Middlebury College, and a Diplôme in Composition from l’Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris. marymontgomerykoppel.com


Jessica Meyer

With playing that is “fierce and lyrical” and works that are “other-worldly” (The Strad) and “evocative” (NY Times), Jessica Meyer is a versatile composer and violist whose passionate musicianship radiates accessibility, generosity, and emotional clarity. Her current solo show and “intriguingly vivid” debut CD, Sounds of Being, is a surround-sound sensory experience of her own compositions for viola and loop pedal where she turns her voice and viola into an orchestra to take the audience on a journey filled with joy, anxiety, closeness, anger, bliss, torment, loneliness, and passion. Performances include iconic NYC Clubs such as Joe’s Pub and SubCulture, to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and across the pond at Sunset Sunside in Paris. Ms. Meyer’s compositions explore the wide palette of emotionally expressive colors available to each instrument while using traditional and extended techniques inspired by her varied experiences as a contemporary and period instrumentalist. Recent commissions include a work for the Nautilus Brass Quintet as the composer in residence at the 2016 Women Composers Festival of Hartford, and soprano Melissa Wimbish for her Carnegie Hall debut. Upcoming commissions include works for cellist Amanda Gookin of the Public String Quartet, pianist Molly Morkoski, and NOVUS NY of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner.