Past Commissions

San Francisco Choral Society has a rich history of supporting contemporary composers who have created dramatic, moving new choral works for us and the rest of the musical world to share. We’re proud of this legacy, which continues during the 2014 and 2015 seasons as we premiere in three series of concerts a complete new oratorio, Terra Nostra, by Bay Area-native Stacy Garrop.

We can all use a little refreshment, don’t you think? The various sound worlds created by the composers allow our imaginations to open and have new experiences. The selection of poetry draws us into the world in new and sometimes startling ways.
–Robert Geary, SF Choral Artistic Director

Olli Kortekangas | Seven Songs for Planet Earth (West Coast Premiere, 2011)

I compose for my listeners,” the composer says. “Yet I am unwilling to speak of influencing my audience. It is neither right nor possible to calculate the listenerʼs reactions. Rather, I prefer to speak of shared experiences.” Read more.

Donald McCullough | Contraries: The Human Condition (World Premiere, 2009)

I decided to explore the two contrary states of the human soul, the paradox that resides in all of us, as expressed in Blake’s poetry,” the composer says. “Blake’s point is not that innocence (childhood optimism) is always good, and experience (adult cynicism) is always bad….Blake said, ‘Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.’” Read more.

Mark Winges | pax penetralis (World Premiere, 2007)

As with many of my pieces, pax penetralis (peace passing through) starts with a particular, although rather abstract, sound — in this case, the sound of the chorus and strings,” the composer says. “As I begin any piece, I always ask myself, what kind of sound-world does this group of musicians inhabit?” Winges discusses this work in more detail here, and there’s more about the composition here.

Emma Lou Diemer | Songs for the Earth (World Premiere, 2005)

My greatest pleasure is to write music that moves people, not that moves them out of the room,” the composer says. This work uses texts from several poets – ranging from Omar Khayyám in 11th-century Persia to the composer’s own sister – to focus the audience on questions about our stewardship of the planet we live on. Read more here.