February 8, 2016

Music student Matthew Swartz wins competition recognizing best emerging composers

Matthew Swartz, a doctoral student in Claremont Graduate University’s Department of Music, took first place in a competition recognizing Southern California’s best emerging composers.

Claremont Graduate University music student Matthew Swartz

Matthew Swartz

Swartz won the Mountainside Master Chorale‘s Choral Composition Competition for his piece “Zueignung.” He bested more than 70 other entrants, each of whom submitted a composition for a choral piece with piano or organ accompaniment of 3-5 minutes long.

“Being awarded first place far exceeded my expectations and gives me hope to stimulate further interest for this piece in other ensembles,” Swartz said.

Swartz wrote “Zueignung” specifically for the competition. It is inspired by a poem from Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg and serves as a statement of gratitude for having a particular person’s love, and for being transformed by it, Swartz said.

“Though my piece has no particular romantic dedicatee, I was drawn to its humbly genuine tone and spent time researching my own translation as a means to devise a musical structure,” Swartz said.

The title, “Zueignung,” German for “dedication,” is a nod to an 1885 composition by Richard Strauss that Swartz admires for its emotional substance.


Swartz’s winning composition will be performed on Saturday, June 11 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 12, at 3:30 pm as part Mountainside Master Chorale’s California Voices concert at First Christian Church, 1751 N. Park Ave., in Pomona.

Also featured in that concert will be three commissioned pieces by noted Southern California composers, including Claremont Graduate University music alumnus Edward David Zeliff (MA, ’97; DMA, ’02).

The judges for the competition were Shawn Kirchner (composer in residence, Los Angeles Master Chorale), James Hopkins (professor emeritus of composition, University of Southern California), and Dominick DiOrio (assistant professor of choral music, Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University).