Voices Found: Choral Anthem Contest

The Women’s Sacred Music Project is proud to announce the winners of the Voices Found Anthem contest. WSMP has awarded two first prizes of $3000 each.

  • The Voices Found Award goes to Ruth Watson Henderson of Toronto, Canada, for her setting of “Breath of God,” with text by Carl Daw.
  • The Lesley Hopwood Meyer Award goes to Fiona Fraser of Canberra, Australia, for her setting of “I Cannot Dance, O Love,” with text by Jean Wiebe Janzen.
  • An Honorable Mention award of $500 goes to Dorothy Frisch of Connecticut, for her setting of “All Who Hunger,” with text by Sylvia Dunstan.

All texts are from the hymnal supplement Voices Found. The compositions were premiered at the Voices Found symposium held November 14, 2009, at the Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Ruth Watson Henderson has an international reputation as one of Canada’s leading composers and as an admired pianist and organist.

Known especially as a composer of choral works, she has done much to promote the artistry of children through her wealth of compositions for treble voices, using the expertise gleaned over the 28 years she served as the accompanist of the Toronto Children’s Chorus under Jean Ashworth Bartle, until they both retired in 2007. She has at the same time written a wide spectrum of works for adult choirs – an activity started while she was accompanist of the Festival Singers of Canada under Dr. Elmer Iseler.

Her works are acclaimed, performed and recorded worldwide. Her pieces are often featured as the title track on recordings, such as My Heart Soars (TCC), Come, Ye Makers of Song (TCC), The Last Straw (Amabile Boys Choirs) and When Music Sounds (Oriana Singers). The Elmer Iseler Singers released a CD, Sing All Ye Joyful, devoted to the works of Ruth Watson Henderson.

Although most widely known for her prolific output of choral works, Ms Watson Henderson has also written numerous instrumental compositions. As well as her solo organ pieces, these include her Intrada for Trumpet and Organ, her Fantasy for Saxophone and Organ, and Suite for Violin and Organ.

Recognized for her lifetime of service to music, Ruth has been paid many tributes by the music community. She was honoured by the conferring of an honorary Fellowship by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (FRCCO); she received the National Choral Award for Outstanding Choral Composition for Voices of Earth, and the Distinguished Service Award by the Ontario Choral Federation. As a tribute to her on first her 60th, and then her 70th birthdays, numerous fine choirs performed entire concerts of her works; these choirs included the Elmer Iseler Singers, the Toronto Children’s Chorus and the Oriana Women’s Choir of Toronto.

Ruth Watson Henderson continues to serve as the Music Director at Kingsway-Lambton United Church in Toronto.

Fiona Fraser began her musical studies on piano at age 7 and began composing music at age 9.

Since graduating from Sydney University in 1983 with Honours Degrees in Arts (History) and Social Work degrees, Fiona has led an eclectic career. She worked initially as a mental health Social Worker in rural NSW and Canberra before transferring to the Commonwealth Australian Government where she worked as a policy advisor in a number of health and welfare areas including Aboriginal health. She also managed a major research and development project for the Australian Customs Service in the use of biometric technology to facilitate border control. During this time, Fiona pursued her musical interests as a church organist and choir singer, composing music for her own use or for use in a liturgical context.

Fiona returned to university in 2005 to undertake her first formal studies in composition and studied at the Australian National University’s School of Music with eminent Australian composer Larry Sitsky and leading theatre composer, Jim Cotter. She completed a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours and the University Medal in 2008.

Fiona was awarded the ANU’s Harold Allen Memorial Prize for the leading composition student in 2006 and 2007. In 2008 she was awarded the Peter and Lena Karmel Anniversary Prize in Music awarded each year to the best graduating student in the School of Music.

Fiona has built up an impressive portfolio of works including 4 orchestral works, a one-act chamber opera, choral works, songs, theatre work and numerous chamber and solo instrumental works.

The ANU Symphony Orchestra premiered her first orchestral work Piscean Pandemonium in October 2006. They also performed a second orchestral piece, Mabbul, based on the biblical flood story and its relevance to global warming, in October 2007.

Also in 2006, the Canberra Wayfarers, in conjunction with Music da Camera, performed Fiona’s Prayer for Peace at Canberra’s Albert Hall on UN International Peace Day. This work for 3 soloists, choir and string orchestra written following the London terrorist bombings in 2005, is based on prayers for peace from different religious traditions.

Canberra-based groups, The Gryffin Ensemble and DominantSeven have both premiered new works by Fiona Fraser in 2007 and 2008 and the Gryffin Ensemble will be recording To Boldly Go in 2009.

Other major works include Quiddity for solo harp, recorded in concert by the ABC in 2008, a 5 movement suite for brass quintet, premiered by the ANU Brass Ensemble in May 2007, a 3 movement flute sonata, premiered at the ANU School of Music in May 2006 and numerous songs and choral arrangements. In 2005, Fiona also contributed music for Canberra Repertory’s acclaimed production of Arcadia by Tom Stoppard.

Currently Fiona is working with the Canberra Street Theatre who received an Arts ACT grant to assist in developing and staging Fiona’s opera .A Capital Idyll, in 2009.

In 2009 Fiona was awarded a Commonwealth Post-Graduate Scholarship and is currently engaged in Phd studies in composition at the Australian National University. She also teaches composition in the pre-tertiary program at the ANU School of Music and is the Director of Music at Holy Covenant Anglican (Episcopal) Church in Canberra.

Her research interest is the influence of theosophy on composers in the early part of the twentieth century. She has already typeset and edited a series of “Nature Studies” by the early twentieth century Australian composer Phyllis Campbell which were published by Keys Press in 2008.

Dorothy J. Frisch is Composer-in-Residence and Associate Organist of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Southbridge, Massachusetts. She is a graduate of Calvin College (Bachelor of Arts in Music, with a concentration in organ), and the University of Akron (Master of Music in history and literature). She has studied composition with Alice Parker and Jeanne Cotter. Since graduate school, she has worked in Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts as composer and organist. She has played the organ in Baptist, Catholic, Christian Reformed, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Reformed, and United Church of Christ churches. Most recently, she was Interim Music Director of Elm St. Congregational Church in Southbridge (2007), Choir Director/Organist of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Putnam, Connecticut (2005-2007), and Cantor/Organist of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2002-2004). Throughout her career, she has focused on encouraging as many people as possible to use their musical gifts in worship, arranging music as needed. She taught vocal music to grades K-7 of St. Matthew Christian Academy and wrote two Christmas plays for the students.

Dorothy is the arranger of the songs for Glad to Be Alive!: A Musical Character Education Program of 54 Songs for Elementary Children by Kathryn S. Atman. She created and ran a pilot program of several of the songs for St. Matthew Christian Academy. Volume I of Glad to Be Alive! will be published in 2009. Her choral anthem “O God, Our Lives Are Parched and Dry” will be published by GIA.

In addition to writing music for singers of all ages (preschoolers through adults) and for the usual church groups and instruments (children’s choir, adult choir, handbell choir, organ, and piano), Dorothy has specialized in composing and arranging music for unusual combinations of instruments and voices. In her time at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Dorothy has composed several anthems, the cantata One Cold, Clear Night in Bethlehem, “Exultation” for euphonium and organ, and “Gaudeamus Pariter” for euphonium and piano. She is a member of the Holy Trinity Choir and sings alto in the Holy Trinity Quartet. She is presently writing The Dawning Day, an Easter cantata scheduled for Easter 2010.

Dorothy is a member of the American Guild of Organists, Worcester Chapter. She is married to Kurt C. Frisch, Jr., Associate Research Fellow at Rogers Corporation, and vestry senior warden, choir member, and soloist at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

They are the parents of Kurt C. Frisch III, accountant and euphonium player, and Sarah E. Frisch, college student.