Michael Sitton, Winner of the 2019 Grace Church Composition Competition
We are pleased to announce that Michael Sitton is the winner of the 2019 Grace Church Composition Competition. His work, O Emmanuel, for chamber orchestra, choir and soloists will be given its premiere on December 8, 2019 by the Rutland Area Chorus and Festival Orchestra.
O Emmanuel is a choral setting of a litany based on the Advent “O Antiphons,” for mixed choir, with a small solo group employed to sing an unaccompanied recurring refrain. The piece is a predominantly lyrical setting with a quiet opening and closing and a variety of moods and textures within the setting reflective of each verse in the text. Instrumental support is primarily provided by string ensemble with additional support and added color from organ and timpani; a pair of oboes are featured both as solo instruments and for occasional doubling and obbligato material. While the text clearly ties to the Advent tradition and to Hebrew and Christian scriptures, the content is largely nonsectarian in its thrust and speaks to universal aspirations of hope and longing.
Michael Sitton has served since 2009 as Dean of the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York at Potsdam, with previous service as Dean of Fine Arts at Eastern New Mexico University, and prior work as a music faculty member at several institutions. He holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His M.Mus. was earned at the University of Kentucky, and the B. Mus., summa cum laude, from Mars Hill College in his native North Carolina. He also holds the Diplôme de concert from Paris’ Schola Cantorum, where he studied as a Harriet Hale Woolley Scholar of the Fondation des Etats-Unis with pianist Gaby Casadesus, and attended the Conservatoire Américain at Fontainebleau.
Although by training and academic appointment a pianist, Michael Sitton has pursued a lively interest in composition, especially of choral music, during most of his career. A formative experience in this regard was singing under Choirmaster Jerald Hamilton in the Canterbury Choir of the Episcopal Chapel of St. John the Divine at the University of Illinois. His choral compositions have been commissioned and performed by numerous churches and choirs nationwide, including commissions for national conferences of the Association of Anglican Musicians; other honors include numerous ASCAP annual awards. Over thirty of his works have been published by nine different publishers, and have been featured on recordings by preeminent ensembles as well as national radio and television broadcasts. He has had Vermont premieres of choral works at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Burlington and Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier.
He has performed widely as a recital and concerto soloist, chamber musician, and accompanist, and has conducted masterclasses, workshops, and written for publications in piano literature and pedagogy. He has served as a member of the Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music and as one of its Accreditation Visitors, and has engaged in numerous campus, regional, and state initiatives in public and higher education in both New Mexico and New York.
Michael Sitton has announced his plans to retire from service as Dean of The Crane School in the summer of 2020, at which time he will become a full-time resident of Vermont, joining his partner Mark, who is on the staff of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, at their new home in Barre. Although he has been active both as a performer and composer during his administrative appointments, Sitton looks forward, once living full-time in Vermont, to increased activity in both of those musical areas.
For additional information: www.michaelsitton.com.