Meet the Composers for Celebrating Women Who Compose 2018

Published by davemacdo on

This year on 6 March 2018, Central Florida Composers Forum will be presenting a concert showcasing some of the talented women in our organization and beyond. The show starts at 8pm on Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts. Tickets are only $10 and can be purchased here. Read on to learn about the composers and works on the program.

Bethany Borden is a composer and music educator living in Central Florida and teaching elementary music in Osceola County. She is a UCF alum and taught for a decade in Orange County before diving into a new hobby composing music for video games,Virtual Reality experiences, YouTube channels, and podcasts. The hobby turned into a true passion, and Bethany has enjoyed using technology to bring creative ideas to life.

Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep (Text by Mary Elizabeth Frye) was inspired during the summer of 2016 by a local female singing group Helena, which included a few friends of Ms. Borden’s from college. She thought, how cool would it be to write a piece of music for 6 separate female parts that could be sung by 6 strong singers? Ms. Borden decided to look up a poem for text and found Mary Elizabeth Frye’s beautiful and visual poem. She spent two years working on this piece on and off, and is proud to be premiering it at this event and having it performed by strong, talented women!

Nicole Gutman has worked with leading ensembles including Ensemble New SRQ, Yarn/Wire, SŌ Percussion and the JACK Quartet. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and studied with Lewis Nielson and Josh Levine.

Ms. Gutman’s four premiered songs are part of a collection of songs meant to be performed a cappella  any time, any place, with no need for an accompanist.

The Thing About Cats is a setting of a poem by John L’Heureux, suspecting that cats have some unknown ulterior motive. Witness was inspired by the first page of the comic Watchmen by Allen Moore and David Gibbons, showing a dire situation that could have been stopped if the people did something about it.  Mowing is a setting from a Robert Frost poem describing the soft swishing sound from a winging scythe cutting grass. Talk is a setting of a poem by D. H. Lawrence about the agonies of society’s expectations to socialize with everyone you sit next to.

Jessica Klee holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the UCF.  She is currently a public school music teacher and private instructor of voice, piano, acting and dance and has been teaching for over 15 years.  Aside from performing, producing and writing children’s books, Jessica has composed a few holiday songs, arias, and her most recent composition is a 25 minute Contemporary Ballet titled Carolina.

Good Morning was inspired by a poem written by a dear friend as a teen.  A sad soul living in a difficult world, he was desperately trying to find the positive and good within his surroundings.

Penka Kouneva is a leading composer for film and video games based in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Bulgaria before her immigration to U.S. at age 23, Penka has been fascinated by minimalism since her student years. Penka was trained as a pianist and a chamber musician since early childhood. Her most favorite instruments are the cello and violin, so she relishes any chance she has to compose chamber music. Penka’s Hollywood studio credits include composing for the video games Prince of Persia, Transformers, The Mummy VR game, a permanent NASA exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center (Orlando, FL) about the American astronauts, and many independent drama and genre features, television films and mobile games. Her two orchestral albums, “The Woman Astronaut” and “Rebirth of Id” were released by the top soundtrack label, Varese Sarabande / Universal Music to 5-star press and universal acclaim. Check them out!

“Cassandra’s Rockaby” is fusing minimalism (particularly by the Bang on a Can aesthetics of the early 90’s) with gypsy influences of her native Bulgaria.

Sharon Omens is a composer, performer and music educator who has a deep passion for music. After receiving her Bachelors of Music and Certificate of Music Therapy, she devoted more than 30 years training young musicians and using music as a source of healing with those in need. She has been a spiritual performer of both piano and voice and has produced 6 albums with her original compositions. Currently, she is a member of the Central Florida Composers Forum and has featured her original compositions at the Timucua White House, The Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts and Christ Church Unity Orlando.

Landscapes has several sections with contrasting moods. You will often hear the use of chromatics, triplets against straight time and the interval of a fourth occurring frequently throughout the piece.  To me, Landscapes has a jazz feel to it.

Passages is a musical composition written for woodwinds. Its musical structure is similar to a Theme and Variations since there is a recurring melody that journeys through various melodic, harmonic and rhythmic environments and creates contrasting moods; from happy and peaceful to comical to sad and troubled and perhaps other moods that the listener might have.  I called this music “Passages” because the melody symbolically weaves into a tapestry of sound.

While writing Dance of the Angels, Ms. Omens wanted to create a lovely scene of beauty, hope and joy and pictured many angels dancing and rejoicing in the heavens. This composition has 3 sections with an A B A for and the melody is written primarily using  dorian and lydian modes.

Hailing from the city of “Brotherly Love,” Kathy Sakson received her classical undergraduate music education at Temple University in Philadelphia, and studied jazz piano with Jimmy Amadie after graduating. Upon transplanting to Central Florida, she earned her Master’sDegree from the University of Central Florida, and studied jazz piano, arranging and composing with Per Danielsson. She is currently the Course Director for the Musicianship Course at Full Sail University, teaching within the Music Production degree program.

Fergie and Buzz were spiders…extremely small, dust-speck-like spiders requiring magnification to confirm their arachnid identity. Their short life cycle, reflective of many settings presented by Mother Nature, displayed periods of minimal activity alternating with bursts of charged, and seemingly erratic movement. In this easy-going Latin piece, the composer reflects these cycles of peaceful repose and high activity seen in the natural world – to which we, too, can surely relate.

Margaret Allison Bonds (March 3, 1913 –April 26, 1972) was an American composer and pianist. One of the first black composers and performers to gain recognition in the United States.

Juliette Nadia Boulanger September 16, 1887 –October 22, 1979) was a French composer, conductor, and teacher. She is notable for having taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century.

Anne Marie Cotter David is an American composer of multiple piano scores for religious presses including Augsburg Fortress Publishers and Abingdon Press of Berklee College of Music.

Pauline Viardot (18 July 1821 – 18 May 1910) was a leading nineteenth-century French mezzo-soprano, pedagogue, and composer of Spanish descent.


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