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The Carmina Burana Choral Project: Anthony Constantino, Composer

Each year, Carnegie Hall presents a large-scale Creative Learning Project in which local students perform a major work in Stern Auditorium with a professional orchestra, professional soloists, and a well-known conductor. As part of the project, students also compose new music based on themes from the featured major work. These projects are designed to nurture and showcase exemplary student work, elevating student performance to a professional level and creating transformational experiences for all involved, including the audience at the final performance.    

The 2011–2012 project will focus on a performance of Orff’s Carmina Burana conducted by David Robertson with Orchestra of St. Luke’s on February 5, 2012.The first half of this concert will feature three 5–7 minute pieces for orchestra and choir written by top high school composers from around the country. These students—Anthony from Tucson, Arizona; Gabe from Florence, South Carolina; and Thomas from New York—met with composer Thomas Cabaniss in late June to kick off their work.   

During this orientation workshop, each student selected a text related to the topical themes of
Carmina Burana. Over the summer, Anthony, Gabe and Thomas will compose their pieces using these texts and the compositional techniques that Orff explored in Carmina Burana. Below, 16-year-old Anthony discusses the beginning of his compositional process.
—Sarah Johnson, Director, Weill Music Institute

Anthony ConstantinoThis summer has been full of inspiration. I am amazed and honored to be working with the Weill Music Institute on the Carmina Burana Choral Project. Seeing my work performed at Carnegie Hall will be the experience of a lifetime.  

Visiting New York in June for our orientation workshop was a new experience for me. Although I’d been there once before, this visit was completely different in that it focused on the artistic aspects of the city. What a wonderful thing to see a place where art and music never stop flowing! Even walking on the sidewalk, creativity is abundant. Just being in New York and observing the city gave me many preliminary ideas for my piece. Meeting Gabe and Thomas—the other incredibly talented student composers on this project—was also a rewarding experience. Seeing people my age who care about music as much as I do is a rare occurrence.

Anthony Constantino and Carnegie Hall staff exploring New York City.  

Student composers Gabe Smallwood (light blue shirt), Anthony Constantino (yellow shirt), and Thomas Reeves (dark blue shirt) are joined by their mothers and Carnegie Hall staff members as they explore New York City.    

During this orientation workshop, the two other student composers and I each selected a text that related to the themes of Carmina Burana. My piece has been coming along very well so far, based on the text I selected: “Thus it was” by Dag Hammarskjöld. I selected this piece because it speaks of a common struggle that we all go through—pondering our innate need to strive for something, even if we aren’t sure what it is. I very much look forward to seeing what my work will turn into and how it will grow. Writing it will be a beautiful journey of self-discovery. 

Coming for the young artist seminar at the Rocky Ridge Music Center in Colorado has given me a chance to sit with my ideas about my upcoming composition to try and mold them into something real. I have fallen in love with the mountains here. The atmosphere is beautiful and refreshing, and inspiration is not difficult to find by only walking outside. While it is very very different from New York, a clear, more serene creativity is in the air. I am constantly surrounded by peers who share my passion and enthusiasm. 

I'm excited to see where my piece goes, and for the collaboration and learning to come! 

—Anthony Constantino

Creative Learning Projects
The Carmina Burana Choral Project  


An avid pianist, vocalist, flutist, and present student of the cello, Anthony Constantino is a junior attending University High School in Tucson, Arizona. He has studied composition with doctoral student Robert McClure, Tucson Symphony Orchestra (TSO) violist and composer Ilona Gay, and Tucson conductor Alex Shawn. He is a third-year student of the TSO Young Composer’s Project, where he composed two pieces for full orchestra, one of which was chosen as a finalist in the 2011 Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. He currently sings with the University High School Choraliers and the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus’s Young Men’s Ensemble. In 2010, he joined the Arizona Repertory Singers, a professional Tucson choir, which commissioned him to write a choral piece Beauty has the Coldest Heart, which premiered in its 2011 spring concert series. Last summer, he also had the opportunity to spend five weeks studying composition, voice, and piano at the Rocky Ridge Music Center. While there, he studied composition with Matthew Barnson and David Ludwig. His biggest influences are Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, and Bartók. 


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