I was thrilled to write for the Ligeti Quartet a second time this summer, following up from my participation in last year's Composer Academy with a commission from the Cheltenham Music Festival this year. My piece Le Dian ("with intensity" in Gaelic) is a bit of a follow up to last year's piece, using lots of vocally-reminiscent sounds, but this time with more of a sense of urgency. The programme also features works by Michael Zev Gordon, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Bethan Morgan-Williams, and Christian Mason, and we will also be having a panel discussion on diversity in music.
My Evening Canticles (so far my first and only set of canticles) will be read at the American Guild of Organists convention on Friday the 6th, as part of MusicSpoke's AGO Anthem Anthology, curated by Charles Bruffy and appearing on his sacred music series on MusicSpoke. You can read about the anthology here, as well as see previews of all of the works included. The full anthology is also available on Amazon.
The University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir are going on tour to Warsaw, Poland as the ensemble-in-residence for the Polish Choral Conductors Conference. They'll be singing two concerts: one on Friday, 20 April at St John's Archcathedral at 8 pm, and an encore performance outside the city on Saturday, 21 April at 7pm at Garwolin Church. The programme includes my arrangement of 'Shall we gather at the River', which I am very much looking forward to conducting myself.
See a video of the Garwolin performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve3zTF7LoLE
The Gesualdo Six are giving repeat performances of my piece 'My heart is like a singing bird' as part of their spring tour, on their programmes at Clodock, Bristol, Colyton and Winchester. Full details about the performances can be found on Classical Events. They are touring in promotion of their 'English Motets' CD, which debuted at no. 1 on the classical charts in the United Kingdom.
G6 first performed this piece at St John Smith's Square in June 2016, and I've been honoured that they've toured it around the UK and Europe since then.
The SATB version of my 'O Vos Omnes' is being performed by the Festival Choir of Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church and their conductor, Brett Strader.
*Update: see a live stream of the service here, with 'O Vos' beginning at around 53:00. Artist Daniel Panasiuk created a painting of one of the thieves crucified alongside Jesus, beginning during the choir's performance. Daniel frequently creates pieces of art as part of worship.
My 30-minute work for choir and percussion, entitled 'Babylon', will be performed by the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir and Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of conductor Michael Bawtree. The piece brings together texts from various American folk sources (notably from recordings made by Alan Lomax) alongside sacred texts, all on themes of journeying and solitude. This is the final piece for my PhD portfolio and promises to be one of my more dramatic works.
*Update: despite the "Beast from the East" snowstorm, my family all made it in and out of Aberdeen safely and the performance was a great success thanks to the passionate performance and technical skill of all of the musicians involved, especially the choir. A full recording of the work can be found here (all movements are available in the playlist) and the score is available for perusal.
I was honored to be asked to write a setting of Psalm 96 for the Consecration of Canon Anne Dyer as Bishop of the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney, first female bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Photos from the event along with a video and orders of service can be found here (though I was in fact in the congregation with my mom and not singing in the choir).
The piece is for upper voices (SSA) + organ, and as with most psalm settings it revolves around a couple of chord progressions - in this instance, inspired by different fiddle tunings used in Orcadian, Shetlandic, and Nordic fiddle traditions.
The SATB version of my 'O Vos Omnes' will receive a significant performance run this Lenten season with performances in England and the United States. The University of Kent Chamber Choir will perform the piece twice on 23 February, at lunchtime at Studio 3 Gallery and 19.30 at St Michael's Church, and in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral at 19.30 on 2 March. Read about the work and their performances on the University's choral blog, Cantus Firms: http://blogs.kent.ac.uk/cantusfirmus/2018/02/05/between-two-worlds-o-vos-omnes-by-sarah-rimkus/
The City of Canterbury Chamber Choir and fellow Aberdeen PhD student Edward-Rhys Harry will also perform the piece at 18.30 pm at St Peter's Methodist Church on 18 March, alongside works by Whitacre, Lauridsen, and my + Edward's advisor, Phillip Cooke.
The piece will also be performed in East Bay, California by the Festival Choir of Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church and conductor Brett Strader, as part of their Good Friday service on 30 March. They will be joined by an artist who will create an original painting over the course of the service.
The University of Aberdeen Percussion Ensemble will premiere Sarah's 'Blackbird' for marimba and vibraphone at Butchart Centre, University of Aberdeen at 7:30 pm, on their concert concluding their days of workshopping with English percussion duo Maraca2. They will be giving a repeat performance at the Percussion Ensemble's final concert of the semester on 28 March.
See the performance from 28 March here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUF31ox_47A
Join Con Anima Chamber Choir at St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen at 19.30 for an evening of including Byrd, Matthias, Poulenc, Maxwell Davies, and a world premiere of a new commission by myself, conducted by Dr Roger B Williams. Tickets are £10, £5 concession.
My new piece 'Hodie' is a snappy, joyful setting of the traditional text 'Hodie, Christus natus est' that uses pentatonic melodies and clusters along with hocket rhythms to make a piece that captures some of the joy of the season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N7TIwRGY_A
A group of us including some singers from the Cathedral Choir got together and gave an encore recital-style performance of my St Andrew's Mass for choir and semi-chorus at St Andrew's Cathedral's lunchtime recital series. Kathleen Cronie, Sarah LeBrocq, Sam Paul and Ross Cumming reprised their solos, and I was thrilled to conduct the group. Also on the program were two premieres of my new arrangements of American folk tunes that are very dear to my heart. You can hear my 'Wayfaring Stranger' here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sD1Sn3fbNJA I'm very thankful to all the volunteer singers for giving such an excellent performance! I consider myself lucky to live in a place where putting together these kinds of concerts is so readily within our grasp.
From Alan Cooper's review of the concert: "As I wrote in my review of the BBC Singers on Thursday, in my student days and beyond, the commonly held view was that tonal composition was a busted flush. Everything had been done already and probably better. Now composers like Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre and as we heard on Thursday in Aberdeen, Paul Mealor and Phillip Cooke are proving that there are still so many new ways of composing tonally. I think we should add the name of Sarah Rimkus to that list... Her music was original, fresh, fascinating and above all, attractive."
I was honored to win the National Composer award as part of Seattle-based choir The Esoterics' annual POLYPHONOS competition. I will be receiving a commission to write a new work to be premiered in October 2018, and will be traveling to the performances to work with the choir and their director Eric Banks, and speak about my work. The Esoterics have been dedicated to high-quality performances of contemporary works since their inception; this is their 25th anniversary season.
I've had many opportunities to live and work in a wide variety of places in recent years, but I haven't been able to do much musical work in my beautiful home territory of Washington state. I can't begin to express how happy I am to not only get to work with musicians of The Esoterics' and Eric's caliber, but do it so close to my home which I miss.
My commission for Amuse Singers in New York City was premiered at Rutgers Presbyterian Church (73rd and Broadway) on 18 October at 7:30 pm, with a subsequent performance at the Cathedral of St John the Divine (112th and Amsterdam) on 22 October at 4:45 pm. I was happy to attend the first performance and hear the hard work of Amuse Singers and their director Colin Britt in person in their performance of a challenging program of Renaissance works alongside contemporary reflections. My piece 'Above the Stars' pairs with Byrd's 'O Gloriosa Domina' and uses whole tone scales to inflect a number of cross relations into the work, just as Byrd was famous for.
Hear a recording here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7-vEpMcZP8
It's a busy season for me, with a wide range of things going on. Upcoming performances on the North American side of the world include performances of my arrangements of 'Oh Shenandoah' and 'Amazing Grace' by Cantabile Chamber Singers in Toronto, 'Charlie is my Darling' by the mixed varsity chorale of Taylor High School in Katy, TX (my first performance by a high school ensemble) and the premiere of my 'Ave Rosa, Sine Spinis' by Nova Vocal Ensemble in Glendale, California.
I've also got two new recordings in the queue for release - my Christmas carol 'Brightest and Best' was recently recorded by Manchester-based ensemble Kantos and conductor Ellie Slorach, to be released in December on Prima Facie's new record 'The Silver Stars at Play', including carols by a wide variety of other distinguished living composers. The record will be officially released in concert in Manchester on 16 December. Additionally, production is beginning on the Cambridge Chorale's album of Marian works, including my commission 'Mater Dei', among works by Pawel Lukaszewski, Owain Park and others.
'Brightest and Best' has additionally been accepted for publication by GIA Publications and editor Dr. James Jordan of Westminster Choir College, which will be my first professional publication.
I was thrilled to win the Cantus Ensemble's composition prize for my new Magnificat. Each of the four finalists for the prize had a new Magnificat premiered, all designed to be paired with Arvo Pärt's beautiful Nunc Dimittis. My piece used aleatoric arpeggios to take the tintinnabulation in the Pärt one step further. The Cantus Ensemble and director Dominic Brennan performed the works alongside Parry's 'Songs of Farewell' at St Gabriel's, Warwick Square for their final concert of the season. Aberdeen was well represented, with my fellow PhD student Alison Willis also winning the audience choice award for her piece.