The Emerging Composer Competition was a success! We received 52 entries from all of the United States, coast to coast and north to south. Moreover, we received compositions from Armenia, Argentina, Austria, and Brazil! To ensure a non-biased approach to the compositions, our President, Anne Lopez, received all entries, biographies, and pieces of music. She then made sure that all scores were void of personal content and re-cataloged them alphabetically according to the order in which they were received. Beginning with the letter A, and ending with ZZ, it worked out beautifully. The panelists were our Artistic Director, Wendy Wickham, me (Cécile Audette, outreach director), and Douglas Buchanan (composition professor at Peabody Institute of Music).
We judged the pieces individually and gave each piece a score for matching the criteria in terms of theme, style, and timing. Then we further scored them based upon singability (tessitura, melodic flow) and cohesiveness. We read through all fifty-two and narrowed down the selection of entries to five pieces. When we reached the five, we gathered and sang each part a cappella and with accompaniment. We are thrilled to announce that our composer competition winner this year is Ms. Debra Dyko, with a piece by the title of “Night Sentry!” You will hear Night Sentry in our Winter Program at David’s Church (4700 Roland Avenue, Baltimore) on Friday, December 2, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. Ms. Dyko will be present at this event. Stay tuned!
About our Featured Composer, Debra Dyko
Debra Dyko has been influenced by the wide range of musical appointments she has held, from modern dance accompanist to her positions as music director of cathedrals and seminaries. Her musical styles span a wide variety of mediums. In addition to her compositions for the choir, she has written for orchestra, band, voice, and chamber ensembles. She has studied with Charles Ruggerio, Alvin Singleton, and William Schirmer.
Debra earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Composition from Jacksonville University, (Jacksonville, Florida) in 1993. After graduation, she held many positions as an accompanist; and in 1999, she was employed at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California, where she began tailoring the music to the skills of the students and ensembles in the seminary. She also developed performance groups where there were none before and wrote music to fill the gaps in the repertoire. Ms. Dyko received her Master’s Degree in Organ Performance from Azusa Pacific University in Whittier California in 2006. She was employed that year by St. Pius V Catholic Church in Buena Park, California, and remained until 2012, when she was hired by St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana. A lifelong learner, she has sought to hone her skills through summer intensives and retreats, including a Summer Composition Intensive at St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) in 2016, the Choral Composers Forum Lehigh University (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) in 2018, the Creative Musicians Retreat Walden School (Dublin, New Hampshire) in 2019, and the East Chamber Music Early Career Composer Festival (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) in 2021.
Ms. Dyko has previously published with Gia Publications, and other works include:
- Invictus for trumpet and piano: (2017) William Ernest Henley, born August 23, 1849, was an influential British poet, perhaps best known for his poem “Invictus” (1875).
- Homage to Muybridge: (2019) (Eadweard Muybridge, English photographer)
- Prelude in the Time of Unease: written during the Pandemic in (2021) (for theremin and piano)
We look forward to welcoming Ms. Dyko on Friday, December 2, 2002, at 7:30 p.m. at St. David’s Church (4700 Roland Avenue, Baltimore) when we premier her composition, The Vision of the Night Sentry!
Says Ms. Dyko about her music:
“My music uses rhythmic expressiveness within a tonal palette, using contrapuntal preciseness to blend multiple lines into one unified vision.”
“The original inspiration for The Vision of the Night Sentry was listening to my neighbor practice her viola, as I was arranging music for my church choir. I have taken the traditional words from the English carol and reset them to a new melody. The new melody reflects a more Middle Eastern feel, which gave me the thought [that] the words could be what a sentry would tell an audience, and that also gave me the idea, that, of course, the sentry would hear the teams of men powering the ships and would incorporate the songs in the story.“(Debra Dyko)