First-Time Editors’ Choice Honorees: Choral Composers


Each year, we’re proud to bring you the very best new music for every ensemble. Our team listens to hundreds of selections from a wide range of publishers in order to identify the highest quality titles for musicians of all ages.

In addition to being a helpful tool for teachers and directors, Editors’ Choice represents a major career aspiration for composers and arrangers! We invited composers who had one of their choral pieces chosen for the first time this year to be featured on our blog. Read on to learn about the respondents and their work.

Aron Accurso

Aron Accurso

Editors’ Choice Piece: You Are Enough
Available for SATB and TTBB

I love how music can bring people together, express depth of emotion, and affect people in a profound way! I have especially gravitated to choral music, musical theatre, and songwriting. I began writing at an early age, then earned a degree in music theory and composition at St. Olaf College, where I sang in choirs and an a cappella group. I’ve worked as a music director on Broadway for about 17 years. After becoming a father, I’ve found a lot of joy creating music for little kids! My wife and I have a YouTube channel for toddlers and preschoolers, Ms. Rachel, with over 4 billion views.

My creative process involves asking myself, “What is the piece trying to do?” “What do I want the audience to take away?” I generally start with an idea of what the piece could be: a musical phrase, a hook, a style, a piece of text. I’ll think about it while I’m walking around and try to get into the emotional space of the piece. I prefer to work with pencil and paper to start. Eventually, I sit down at a piano to come up with more ideas before moving to the computer for the finer details. I’ve had fantasies over the years of getting into a routine, but to be honest, I generally work project to project and the days are different. One thing is always true: I have to make time to be creative and write! My musical influences include everyone from Brahms to Badings to Gershwin to Guettel, and the list goes on.

We all have negative thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. Conversations about mental health should occur more freely. I truly hope You Are Enough can help people feel less alone and know that they are loved and supported, and that they are enough as they are.

My advice for aspiring composers: write from your heart, and don’t worry too much about everything being perfect or unique. Share your light with the world!

You can find more about my work and upcoming projects on my website. After getting married, I wrote the piece Evermore in response to how all of our friends and family convened together to wish us well. I also wrote a suite with Adam Overett for the beloved Colorado Children’s Chorale called The Trail and the music for a new musical called The Pack. I’m so honored to be an Editors’ Choice composer! I hope that I can create more music that helps bring people together and uplifts souls.

Lisa Benincasa

Lisa Benincasa

Editors’ Choice Piece: A Winter Holiday
Available for SATB

I’m 61 years young and I started my musical journey when I was four years old, playing nursery songs by ear on someone else’s piano. I joined band in fourth grade and chorus in fifth, started composing when I was in eighth grade, and continued off and on throughout my life.

I was a keyboardist in an ’80’s band in the ’80’s, had many other careers, married, had children, and became a choir teacher at 42! I began to write choral music after beginning my career as a choral director in 2005—I found myself rewriting parts so we could use them in concerts. My writing is done mostly on weekends, vacations, and a LOT of times in the middle of the night. I drafted most of I Saw a Star while walking around during a long test a few years ago. Boredom can be inspirational!

My creative process changes from piece to piece. I read a lot of public domain poetry, and if something strikes me, then I try to set it. I also love to arrange old folk songs and classic holiday pieces with a twist or new angle. Sometimes a riff or a little chord progression gets stuck in my head that reminds me of a place or an event (Winter Holiday is an example). I try to write music that people can use, not music that a roomful of college music majors or choir directors can sing. Students need that basic rep so that they can be successful and stay in the choir throughout their school years and beyond.

I work every weekday of the school year with adolescent voices, and it keeps me young. If it weren’t for my experience teaching that age group, I would not know so much about their ranges, how voice leading affects them, and what lyrics they will buy into. I write everything down in Finale or on paper as it comes to me, name it, and come back for fine tuning.

As far as musical influences, while I appreciate anything that is done well and is not vulgar or polarizing, I have a deep love for the Great American Songbook tunes. I love the pieces that are written so well for middle school by composers including Laura Farnell, Amy Bernon, Dan Davison, Ken Berg, and Andy Beck.

I couldn’t be happier or more surprised that A Winter Holiday was selected for Editors’ Choice! This song is so close to my heart. Since our sons were very small, we took our family vacations to ski and snowboard resorts in Colorado. At the Denver airport, when you get on the train from the terminal to the gate, you hear a series of chords before they tell you the doors are shutting and the train is about to move.  I was doodling around on the piano one day, and I played a little cluster chord which became the basis of A Winter Holiday as it reminded me of our trips to Colorado. The piece came together quickly. Our boys are grown now, and although we lost our oldest son, Erek, a few years ago, being able to remember those great times in that piece made it so special to all of us.

I would tell aspiring composers to write about what they know and not second-guess themselves. Submit your work to companies that sell music comparable to what you compose. Don’t ever be a “woulda, shoulda, coulda” (this is something I tell my students). Go for it! Life is too short, and there are so many undiscovered gems out there. You might be one of them. Also, sign up for J.W. Pepper’s My Score service! I did. It’s super affordable, well managed, and you get a big percentage if you sell. It gives everyone the chance to see how their music fares.

As a new Editors’ Choice composer, I am excited to see where composing takes me. I would welcome the opportunity to be a clinician for middle school festivals and honor choirs. You can find me on Facebook and My Score.

B.E. Boykin

B.E. Boykin

Editors’ Choice Piece: Coventry Carol
Available for SATTB and SSAA

Around middle school, I started dabbling in songwriting. I didn’t take an Intro to Composition class until my sophomore year at Spelman College. Even after that, it was still a hobby that I did on the side. So many people attempted to discourage me from writing because I was a woman or because I didn’t go to school for composition. I always love to offer the advice I received from my first encounter with Dorothy Rudd Moore, who told me, “Baby, if you want to write, just write!”

I like to sit with text for 2–3 weeks before writing. Sometimes the melody comes first, other times the accompaniment comes first—it depends on the project. My musical influences include Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, Rosephanye Powell, Betty Jackson King, and so many others.

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. The SSAA version of my arrangement of Coventry Carol was premiered by the Spelman College Glee Club in 2010, and the SATB version was premiered in 2014 at the Spelman and Morehouse Christmas Carol Concert. I’m extremely grateful to have two versions of the piece due to the support and leadership of both the Spelman and Morehouse College Glee Clubs.

I’m currently working on a few opera projects with some amazing companies. My chamber opera, Two Corners, will premiere in the summer of 2024 with Finger Lakes Opera. I’m also part of Minnesota Opera’s New Works Initiative and will compose three new works for them during the residency. Follow me on Instagram for more updates on other exciting things. I have my heart set on film composition next… maybe one day!

Burton Bumgarner

Burton Bumgarner

Editors’ Choice Piece: The Turtle Dove
Available for SATB

When I was 12 years old, I began playing hymns for the men’s Bible class at the North Carolina church where my dad was pastor. Then, I joined the church choir and accompanied some of the hymns and anthems in worship and in concerts. Throughout this time, I was taking piano lessons and playing classics by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. I fell in love with choral music while in high school, singing in performances of Handel’s Messiah, Brahms’ German Requiem, and Vivaldi’s Gloria.

I earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Greensboro College and a Master of Sacred Music degree from Southern Methodist University, where I was fortunate to study with teachers like Lloyd Pfautsch, Jane Marshall, Barbara Burton, and Robert Anderson. I also studied with Alice Parker as a Fellow of Melodious Accord. All of my teachers made profound impressions that I cherish to this day.

I always have several projects going on at the same time. I search for texts and tunes I like, especially among shape-note and folk tunes, and sit at my keyboard experimenting. I’ll come up with a sketch on manuscript paper, switch to Logic Pro to play different possibilities, and end up with some kind of music file. If it seems like a worthwhile project, I will work it out for my choirs or instrumentalists in clean notation that they can read using Finale 27. I like to get up early in the morning and work on music and scripts.

The Turtle Dove is a choral setting of a charming American folk hymn that was first published in William Walker’s Southern Harmony in 1854. This arrangement uses 6/4 and 9/4 meters with piano accompaniment that at times imitates the turtle dove flying from place to place, joyfully singing about Christ’s love. The winter winds and rains are past, the deserts rejoice, and “all things appear divinely new.” It is well-suited for the Easter season, for Christ the King Sunday, and anytime during Ordinary Time when a text about creation, nature, and resurrection is appropriate.

My advice would be for any aspiring composer to become very comfortable using music technology. I primarily use Finale and Logic Pro. Both are amazing tools for seeing and hearing my work before I ever place it before singers and instrumentalists.

I have written several musicals, including a current project on the story of Silent Night. I am working on a production of the Silent Night musical for this Christmas and on preparing the text and music files to submit to publishers. The musical has a cast of around 35. Visit my website to learn more about my work or get in touch.

Kate Crellin

Kate Crellin

Editors’ Choice Piece: Day of Fire and Sun
Available for SATB and SSAA

I’m an American-British composer, arranger, vocalist, educator, and conductor! I started singing in my third-grade choir and haven’t stopped since. I enjoy singing choral, jazz, and contemporary a cappella. I earned bachelor’s degrees in choral music and law, history, and culture at the University of Southern California and a master’s in choral music from Queens’ College, Cambridge, UK. I now work as a high school and middle school choir director and as an Associate Conductor at the National Children’s Chorus. In the summer, I work at A Cappella Academy, a camp I attended as a teenager that helped me find my path as a musician!

I began contemporary a cappella arranging in high school and found my footing arranging for collegiate groups across the country. Arranging evolved into composing at the start of the pandemic. I was sad to have to leave Cambridge before the summer term because of the lockdown, and back in Los Angeles, I found a poem called Home-Thoughts, From Abroad that perfectly captured how I was feeling. It all started from there! My piece won a competition with a publishing opportunity, which gave me the confidence to write more music.

When I have time to compose, I start by finding a text that inspires me. Once I have a thread of an idea, I open up a DAW and start recording snippets. It then seems to organically switch back and forth between my notation software and my recordings until I feel the piece is ready for a final demo.

In Day of Fire and Sun, I sought to infuse my contemporary a cappella voice into a choral setting of a Sara Teasdale poem. The percussive rhythms throughout drive the piece forward and mimic the textual intensity. This is contrasted by the legato middle section, which is a chance to show off choral blend before the layered motif ending.

I’m excited to be releasing more music this season, including two new original pieces and a contemporary a cappella arrangement. My next career goal is to expand my commissions to arrangements and compositions for high school and collegiate groups: I love writing from the educator’s perspective, and it’s always special to customize a piece to each ensemble’s specific strengths and needs.

I am inspired by so many musicians both in and out of the choral space. Just to name a few: VOCES8, Trinity College Choir, Conspirare, JMax Ferdinand Singers, Laufey, säje, Trousdale, the Nor’Easters, and Tiny Habits. Plus, I’m always so inspired by my composer peers and mentors: Rob Dietz, Tehillah Alphonso, MaryAnne Muglia, Emily Drum, Zanaida Robles, and others!

Aspiring composers: your personal composition process is valid! I’ve felt a lot of imposter syndrome, as I never received formal composition training, I’m not a very skilled pianist, and I don’t use the fanciest software. Don’t let any of that stop you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Some of my best musical experiences have been collaborations!

You can find me on Instagram or on my website. Thank you!

Carter Datz

Carter Datz

Editors’ Choice Piece: Love Takes Work
Available for SATB and SSA

I teach choir at Liberty High School in Lake St. Louis, Missouri. This is my fifth year of teaching, and I love collaborating with my students to create original pieces. I also work as a composer and arranger in my spare time, and I could see myself moving into that field full-time later in my career. I would love to continue publishing choral works and arrangements: my main career goal is to touch as many hearts and lives with my music as possible.

My love of music stems from my family, especially from my father, who is a phenomenal organist. I started playing the piano when I was four, and that has helped me master both the art of sight-reading and playing by ear. I had the honor of playing trombone in the Missouri All-State Band all four years of high school. I taught myself how to play guitar, ukulele, and drums while pushing myself to write original music in all different genres, from pop-rock to classical.

I got more serious about composing in junior high and high school, especially when I joined choir my junior year. One day, we turned the lights off, laid down on the floor, and sang Cyrillus Kreek’s Psalm 104 with our eyes closed. I remember thinking, “I want to live in these sounds for the rest of my life.”

If I’m working on an original piece, I like to start with a good text. I’ll sit with the words and read them over and over until the text starts to “sing” itself. I love uncovering the music that’s inherent in poetry. As a teacher, I often don’t have much time to contemplate and reflect, but I typically work best with a deadline and under pressure. Once I get into a flow state, I find that musical ideas come quickly. I can easily stretch small ideas into larger pieces thanks to the training I had at Truman State University under the tutelage of Dr. Warren Gooch. My main choral influences are Eric Whitacre, Ola Gjeilo, and Arvo Pärt, but I also adore Jacob Collier, Bon Iver, and the great composer Olivier Messiaen.

Love Takes Work was a collaborative effort between my 2021–22 Select Treble Choir and myself. I challenged them to brainstorm topics and lyrics, and they blew me away with their wisdom and self-examination, especially considering most of the girls were freshmen. They settled on a song about body positivity and how to redirect negative thoughts. I guided them through the process and strung together their lyrical ideas.

I knew the song was special when my principal stopped by, and I invited him to listen to what we were working on. When we finished and I turned back around, I saw he was crying. It was such a powerful and cathartic experience for these girls to sing words they had written to remind themselves that they were worthy of love, and I’m so proud of them for putting their hearts into this piece so that others may be touched by it.

As composers in this postmodern age, we have the ultimate blessing: freedom to write whatever we want to write. This can also be the ultimate curse, however, if we are paralyzed by an infinite set of choices. So, I suggest that composers give themselves as many limitations as possible! Write the best melody you can using only five notes. Give yourself an hour to turn off your inner critic and write something terribly dissonant. Write a minute of music only using a D♭ chord as the accompaniment. The more boundaries you set for yourself, the less judgement you will carry into everything you write. Also: don’t be afraid to lean into your strengths—they are what make your music unique! The world only has one you. Don’t try to be anyone else!

Get in touch with me via email at, find me on my occasionally viral TikTok page, or follow my choir program on Instagram or Facebook.

Kestutis Daugirdas

Kestutis Daugirdas

Editors’ Choice Piece: Plaudite, Psallite
Available for SSAATTBB

I wrote my first piece, Angels’ Trumpets, in third grade. I was a first-year piano student, and my teacher gave me composition homework assignments as part of my study.  I thought that was normal; little did I know how rare it is for teachers to ask their beginning students to compose!

Later, I joined a children’s chorus and community chorus (both directed by Darius Polikaitis, to whom Plaudite, Psallite is dedicated), and learned to love singing with an ensemble. At the University of Illinois, I studied choral conducting, directed the Xtension Chords a cappella group and arranged many pieces for them. Afterward, I went to Berklee College of Music to get a diploma in film scoring. I’m really glad I had a long period of informal composition training first; it taught me to follow my intuition.

Looking back, I’m incredibly grateful to the mentors in my life who looked at me and said, “Hey! Compose something!” Once I started working, the motivation to make it good would come from within, but those invitations got me to sit down in front of the blank page.

At the moment, my typical workday is centered on my new teaching position at Lincoln Park High School, and composing happens late evenings and on Saturdays. It feels good to dive deep, stay up late, and have marathon sessions.

Everything begins with the search for a text. The character of the text—its meaning, its cadence, its rhythm, its mouthfeel—is brimming with musical suggestions for me and gets me moving. Step two is choosing a tempo that reflects the energy level I’m looking for. Step three is lots of improvisation. I set up a microphone and MIDI keyboard to record and let it run. I create all kinds of improvising games for myself based on the kind of piece I want to write.

A lot of my musical influences are subconscious and difficult to identify. A few miscellaneous highlights:

  • The first CD I ever bought: Under the Table and Dreaming by Dave Matthews Band (and I will still defend this band against the haters!)
  • Formative large choral work experience: Durufle Requiem with the Dainava Lithuanian Chorale in high school
  • Composers whose musical language influences my own: Morton Lauridsen, Vaclovas Augustinas, Handel, and the vocal writing of the band Fleet Foxes
  • Composers whose aesthetic I’m interested in exploring in future works: Vejlo Tormis and Bronius Kutavičius
  • Composition that sounded inscrutable the first time I heard it, but I now love: Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring

Plaudite, Psallite is a piece I wrote while studying for my master’s in composition at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius, Lithuania. I wrote it for a choral composition contest called Vox Juventutis, and it won first place.

“Plaudite, psallite” means “Clap your hands, sing praises.” I had earmarked this text a long time ago; I wanted the opportunity to write a choral piece that was brimming with energy and enthusiasm. The piece is jubilant, with a rhythmic groove, but at the same time very melodic. It draws on my pop music influences as well as my love for medieval plainchant and organum ornamentation. I discovered some very cool overlapping textures in the process of writing it.

I’m honored to be chosen by the editors of J.W. Pepper. My near-term hope is that many choirs embrace and enjoy the piece. Long term, I want to write more pieces using English texts that appeal to strong amateur choruses. I want to write at least one piece in my lifetime that becomes an enduring classic.

My advice for composers: Sing every part and make multitrack recordings of your pieces during your composition process. If it’s hard for you to sing, it’ll be hard for others. If you enjoy singing the part, so will most singers! Not to mention, I always discover tweaks and improvements to the texture through the process of singing and listening back, especially in contrapuntal passages. If you can’t sing high or low enough, all DAW software platforms have pitch shift.

I will be back in Lithuania next summer for the quadrennial Lithuanian Song Festival, a UNESCO-recognized event featuring 10,000+ singers. Two of my compositions based on Lithuanian folk songs, Leliumai and Užaugo liepa, will be performed by the festival choir. I can’t wait!

I post recordings and score videos of my pieces on my YouTube page. I also have a website that includes my instrumental and commercial music work.

Katerina Gimon

Katerina Gimon

Editors’ Choice Piece: Apple Tree
Available for SATB and SSAA

I’m a Canadian composer, vocalist, and improviser living just outside Vancouver, British Columbia. I started my journey as a singer-songwriter and later began composing in the “classical” genre after taking a composition elective on a whim in my first year at university (best whim decision ever!)

With my roots in songwriting, my creative process centers on using my instrument—my voice—and recording/layering ideas into my DAW, with actual music notation usually coming later in the creation process. I try to reserve my mornings for composing, since that’s my peak creative thinking time. Then, I’ll take a midday walk to decompress before spending my afternoons in composer-admin mode and/or heading off to evening rehearsals.

I’ve always been drawn to the music of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer, quirky pop music like that of Regina Spektor, and the Ukrainian folk music of my heritage. Right now, I’m listening to the music of the Lviv-based group YAGODY (introduced to me by my cousin). The song Дівонько (Girl) is a stunning carol sung from girl to girl.

AURORA’s Apple Tree is a pop song about the hidden potential within all of us and how in coming together we can truly make a difference and “save the world.” In my fun, fiery arrangement, the choir is accompanied by a quartet of miscellaneous percussion (playable by choristers) and tutti body percussion that help support the drive and energy of the music.

My next goal is to release an album of my choral music—and, as it would happen, I actually have this dream project of mine currently in the works thanks to the support of the Canada Council of the Arts. My debut album, If the Earth Could Sing, is set to be released later next year…stay tuned!

My advice for aspiring composers:

  • Stay curious. Follow your curiosities down the rabbit hole of inspiration!
  • Be brave. Explore new territory. Take risks! Don’t be afraid of stumbling along the way. It’s all part of the journey.
  • Always stay true to your own artistic voice and intuition.

The best place to find out about me and my music is my website. For more updates, follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and X, and subscribe to my email newsletter.

I’d like to highlight two exciting projects I have coming up this spring:

I am writing a brand-new SATB work as the composer-in-residence for the National Concert Chorus. Your ensemble could be part of the world premiere on March 24, 2024 at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Washington!

I’m looking forward to being a guest artist and clinician at the Kantorei Choral Festival in April 2024 in Calgary, Alberta! Join me in the beautiful Canadian Rockies for this exciting event.

Austin Hunt

Austin Hunt

Editors’ Choice Piece: Woke Up This Mornin’
Available for TBB

I grew up in a loving and musically gifted family, to which I owe my career and livelihood. My father is a brilliant conductor, pianist, and composer who gave me the tools and experience I needed to begin writing music from a very young age. I was heavily active in his thriving church music programs, which introduced me to a wide range of styles from the reverent exhortation of organ and orchestra to the uninhibited soulfulness of gospel and jazz. When I was about thirteen years old, I wrote a piece for my father’s church choir based on the text of Psalm 118:14, “The Lord is my strength and my song.” It was truly miraculous to hear the music I’d written on the page come to life in the form of sound. This was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a composer.

I always begin my creative process with text that inspires music. Musically speaking, a good text already contains the ingredients necessary to produce a solid composition. The job of a composer is to unpack those ideas and develop them as far as they’ll go. For me, the process is slow and meticulous—but I enjoy it! Typically, I craft a melody that expresses the text in a meaningful way, then subject it to tests: does it fit within the parameters of the style I’m writing in? Is it appropriate for the type of ensemble I’m writing for? Is it catchy and singable?

Once I’ve settled on the initial melody, I begin expanding it as needed to include multiple verses, variations, and so on. I engineer the piano accompaniment around the melody to help support it, but also make sure to give the piano its own unique voice, such that the final product is an equal partnership between the two. Then, more questions: are there any superfluous notes that can be omitted? Is the structural integrity of the piece so solid and each note so purposeful that even just one note change would reduce its potency? Finally, after multiple drafts and relentless nitpicking, I arrive at the finished product. I finish the process completely satisfied with my work and entirely confident in the due diligence that went into it.

I have too many musical influences to list, but they would certainly include jazz greats such as Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Keith Jarrett, but also choral composers such as Benjamin Britten, Gustav Holst, and William Walton.

My arrangement of the spiritual Woke Up this Mornin’ combines fun and exciting gospel harmonies with a high-energy piano accompaniment. In the last year, this piece has been performed by schools, churches, universities, and community choirs across the country. It’s great as a concert closer or festival piece. I’m excited that Woke Up this Mornin’ won the J.W. Pepper Directors’ Vote for Most Popular Choral Piece!

I would tell any aspiring composer to just keep writing. The more you write, the better a writer you’ll become. In my case, it has helped immensely to build relationships with ensembles that are readily available to perform my work.

I recently transitioned from ten years of teaching public school to become the new Artistic Director of Houston Boychoir. It’s a vibrant organization with over 61 years of history and tradition, including an annual tour that has taken boys across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and more! Our mission is to build men of character through music.

Kate Janzen

Kate Janzen

Editors’ Choice Piece: Scarborough Fair
Available for SSATB

My composing journey started shortly after learning how to play the piano. At the tender age of eight, I started riffing off of a piece that I was in the middle of learning. My new creation was simple and stuck to the C position I was so familiar with, but the novelty of creating my own music thrilled me. From that moment on, I never stopped creating my own songs.

At the start of college, I planned to major in vocal performance. This changed thanks to my incredible theory teacher, Dr. Joe Gilman, who always gave the class the option of composing a piece of music instead of doing the book work. Composing instead of busy work?! Sign me up! And so, my skill writing music blossomed. By the time I transferred to Sacramento State University, I ditched my vocal focus and switched to composition. To make a long story short, I graduated with a double focus in classical composition and theory and jazz composition and arranging.

Describing my creative process is a bit of a challenge because it changes with every piece, but a few constants are:

  • Creating boundaries. Nothing is more daunting and overwhelming than facing a blank piece of manuscript with an infinite number of options. The realm of musical possibilities is vast and endless, so it helps to create some structure by deciding on the mood of the piece, the story I want to tell, and the instrumentation.
  • If I get stuck, I close my eyes and play back what I’ve written thus far. I imagine myself sitting in the audience, listening for what wants to come next.
  • I take my time to listen and get a feel for what wants to happen. If it doesn’t satisfy my soul, I won’t use it. My biggest musical influences are Ravel, Debussy, Wagner, Gershwin, and Cole Porter.

My arrangement of Scarborough Fair started out as an experiment for the small choir I was directing at a local Waldorf school. The group had two basses, two tenors, five altos, and four sopranos, and all were fairly new to singing. One day, before class began, I got a strong desire to program this well-known folk song, but I didn’t know of a good arrangement that would fit the group. I wanted to make pretty chords and tight harmonies, walking the line between choral music and vocal jazz.

So, naturally, I quickly jotted down a few measures as a test to see if they could handle it. And indeed, they could. The next day, I wrote out a little bit more, this time a little more challenging, and still the group could hang on. And thus, the piece slowly unfolded, getting more and more challenging as we went on since the group kept proving they could do it. Several years later, I returned to the piece and added a few more sections, flushed out some of the harmonies, and it became the piece we know today.

What’s on the horizon as far as my career goes now that I’m in the ranks of Editors’ Choice? Besides more choral music, full-length musicals are in my line of sight! I’m currently taking some writing classes to aid and sharpen my character development and storytelling skills.

My advice for aspiring composers:

  • Music theory is a tool, not a hindrance. When you’re trying to write a piece, having a solid grasp on theory is what allows you to find what you’re hearing in real time, as opposed to struggling and stumbling through chord after chord.
  • Studying other composers doesn’t stifle or prevent you from finding your own voice. Just like theory, it’s a tool. Learn from what others have done. Discover what you like and detest. Expand your musical language by learning how others speak.
  • If you haven’t done any collaboration yet, do it. There is a special kind of magic that happens when working with others. The alchemy of everyone’s ideas creates a unique piece of art that no one person could have created alone.

You can find me on my website, YouTube, TikTok, and Facebook.

We’d like to thank all the wonderful composers featured here for taking the time to participate in this interview—and for their music!


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