This year, Carnegie Hall presents its fourth annual Creative Learning Project, centered around a performance of Orff's Carmina Burana on February 5, 2012.
The concert will feature pieces for orchestra and choir written by top
high school composers from around the country. Over the summer, these
talented students are composing their pieces and attending various
programs for music learning. One of them, 14-year-old Gabe Smallwood
from South Carolina, discusses selecting the text he'll use for his composition.In June 2011, I was able to go to New York and participate in The Carmina Burana Choral Project workshop along with the other two incredibly talented and inspired composers, Thomas and Anthony. Meeting them and the people behind the project was a very memorable experience. The text I chose for my composition is the sequence from the Requiem Mass, also known as the Dies Irae,
a 13th century Latin poem written by Thomas of Celano. I have been
drawn to this text ever since I heard Mozart’s setting of the Dies Irae when I was 12 years old. At first, I was attracted to the music instead of the words.
Mozart's Dies Irae.
Then I started researching the text and found other settings of
the poem in the works of Verdi and Faure. Since then, I’ve found favor
with this text and its rich themes. The Carmina Burana Choral
Project explores similar themes, such as fame and fortune and the nature
of human existence, so it seemed a perfect opportunity to set the Dies Irae to music myself.
Dies Irae has seeped into popular culture. Notable street painter Kurt Wenner depicted its themes in this famous 2007 work of the same name.
Thanks to Carnegie Hall and the Weill
Music Institute, I believe that this will be my greatest composition
yet, and I am very fortunate and thankful to be a part of this project.
Related Content:The Carmina Burana Choral Project: February 5, 2012Creative Learning ProjectsAn Introduction to the Carmina Burana Choral Project From student composer Thomas Reeves
Smallwood is a pianist, horn
player, and organist that has been composing for almost four
years. His compositions include masses, cantatas, and chorale
preludes to concertos, partitas, and sonatas. He is currently a freshman
and a member of the International Baccalaureate program at Wilson High
School in Florence,
South Carolina. Gabe
has played French horn with the Florence Youth Symphony Orchestra for
two years. He has served as the organist at Cross and Crown Lutheran
August 2010, and is an active member of the American Guild of Organists.
past summer, Gabe had the privilege of attending the South Carolina
School for the Arts and Humanities Discovery Program where he studied
with Dr. Stephen Taylor for two weeks.