Joan Szymko (b.1957) is a composer and conductor living and working in Portland, Oregon where she is entering her 23rd season as the Artistic Director of Aurora Chorus. As a frequently commissioned composer with a catalog of over 100 published choral works, her music is performed by ensembles across North America and abroad. Since 2003, her music has been performed at every National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association. In 2010 the ACDA recognized Szymko’s lasting impact on the choral arts in America by selecting her as the recipient of the Raymond W. Brock Memorial Commission. Joan enjoyed a fruitful, decade-long collaboration with Robin Lane and Do Jump! Movement Theater (1994-2004) performing her original music with the company in Portland and touring on Broadway, at the Kennedy Center and at the Geffen Playhouse in LA. She has served on the choral music faculty at Portland State University (2013-15). As a visiting artist, she workshops her music with choirs in a variety of educational settings across the US and most recently, in the Netherlands.
Szymko was recently commissioned by Eugene Vocal Arts (Oregon) to create the libretto and compose a large scale work which focuses on those faced with the tragedy of Alzheimer’s dementia. “Shadow and Light” for mezzo-soprano, tenor, soprano, SATB chorus and full chamber orchestra premiered in April 2016 to great critical acclaim. This notable addition to the choral-orchestral repertoire will be made available by Joan Szymko Music in 2017. In addition to her own published works, Joan’s music appears in the catalogs of Santa Barbara Music Publishing, Lorenz Corporation (Roger Dean Publishing), earthsongs, Treble Clef Press and Walton Music. She is a founding member of the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative.
1: (Easy) No divisi in voice parts, accompaniment doubles or supports vocal parts, diatonic, symmetrical phrases, textures mostly homophonic, simple rhythms, stepwise voice leading (conjunct), moderate ranges, no extended techniques, and limited sustained singing.
2: (Medium Easy) Limited divisi, voices somewhat independent from accompaniment, some chromatics, phrases may be longer or more fragmented, mostly homophonic, moderate rhythmic complexity, some difficult intervals (disjunct motion), moderate ranges, extended techniques are simple, limited sustained singing.
3. (Medium) Limited divisi, unaccompanied, or with independent accompaniment (voice parts not doubled), many chromatics, phrases of varying lengths, more contrapuntal textures, moderately complex rhythms, some difficult intervals (disjunct motion), moderately difficult/challenging ranges, extended techniques are potentially challenging, and some sustained singing.
4. (Medium Difficult) Abundant divisi, unaccompanied, or accompanying instruments are fully independent from voice parts, many chromatics and/or key changes, long and/or broken phrases, potentially little homophony, complex rhythms, many difficult intervals (disjunct motion), difficult/challenging ranges, potentially difficult extended techniques, and a demand for sustained singing.
5. (Difficult) Adundant divis, unaccompanied, or accompanying instruments are fully independent from voice parts, many chromatics and/or key changes, long and/or broken phrases, potentially little homophony, complex rhythms, extreme ranges, use of challenging or unusual extended vocal techniques, abundant sustained singing.