Congratulations are in order for Loretta Notareschi, the winner of our 2014 Composition Contest winner. Her piece “Pace, Pace, Pace” was selected from an ever-growing field of submissions from all over the world (many from Europe). It seems the number and quality of submissions grows each year the composition contest continues. It’s not a small task for the reviewing jury!
We spoke with Loretta about her piece (for which the Camerata will perform a Cincinnati premiere during its 2015 season) and her background below. Listen to a short excerpt from her winning composition below the interview…
BIO: Loretta Notareschi
(find out more about Loretta at her website: http://lorettanotareschi.com/)
Loretta K. Notareschi explores the passionate, irreverent, and transcendent in her many compositions for chamber ensemble, large ensemble, and chorus. Born in Canton, Ohio and raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma, she has received awards from the IronWorks Percussion Duo, the American Composers Forum, Ensemble Eleven, and the GALA Choruses. Her music has been performed across the U.S., in Europe, and in South America and is published by Disegni Music(ASCAP), Friedrich Hofmeisterof Leipzig, and Bachovich.
Notareschi writes music for individuals and ensembles around the country. Recent commissions have come from the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, the First Universalist Singers (Denver), the Mountain Music Duo (Denver), the Colorado State Music Teachers Association, Melody of China (San Francisco), the Sacred and Profane Chamber Chorus (Berkeley), the Napa Valley Youth Symphony, and the Sacramento Youth Symphony Chamber Music Workshop.
Notareschi is an associate professor of music at Regis University and a faculty member of The Walden School. She is also a member of ASCAP and the American Composers Forum. She holds a Masters and PhD in composition from the University of California at Berkeley, a Bachelor of Music in composition from the University of Southern California, and the General Diploma from the Zoltàn Kodàly Pedagogical Institute of Music in Kecskemèt, Hungary, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. Her primary teachers in composition have been Morten Lauridsen, Erica Muhl, Rick Lesemann, Cindy Cox, and Jorge Liderman.
Questions for Loretta about “Pace, Pace, Pace”:
How did your ideas around “Pace, Pace, Pace” begin to take shape? Where did the idea start?
“Pace, Pace, Pace” (“Peace, Peace, Peace”) was originally the last two movements of a larger, 6-movement work called Italia Mia. Italia Mia (“My Italy”) was a commission from the Sacred and Profane Chamber Chorus, directed by Rebecca Seeman. When Sacred and Profane commissioned the piece in 2006, Rebecca was planning a concert based on the theme of war and peace. I was inspired by the idea of creating a choral work about peace and began searching high and low for a suitable text. Of course the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were foremost in my mind, and at first I thought I might try to find some text that was topical to our times. Eventually, however, I thought that using a political text from the present seemed too “on the nose” or gauche. Yet I didn’t want something too vague or generic either. Then I found a reference to Petrarch’s political poem, a canzone, called “Italia Mia.” I looked up the poem in a translation by Mark Musa and was immediately intrigued. This poem is a plea for peace among the warring factions in late medieval Italy. Of his eight original stanzas, I set six. “Pace, Pace, Pace” consists of the final two and stands quite well on its own apart from the larger set.
Can you describe the musical effects you were trying to achieve? What compositional strategies did you employ to achieve them?
My setting revolves around an idée fixe made out of minor thirds, emphasizing the bittersweet nature of Petrach’s plea. I also invoke the mainly syllabic style of Renaissance Italian madrigals, but break into melismatic sighs in the last movement, whose final phrase expresses Petrarch’s poignant wish for his country: “Who will assure me? I go my way crying ‘Peace, peace, peace!'”
Is this piece a departure for you, or in line with similar pieces and subject matter you’ve explored in the past?
It was a departure for me. I had never written a political piece before or one that so extensively delved into this particular type of harmonic material.
I see that your text comes from Petrarch. What does that particular text mean to you, and what sparked your interest in setting it to music?
This text is really interesting in that Petrarch is typically thought of for his love poetry to the famous Laura. This poem is quite different, however. It has elements of indignation and righteousness, and it is almost prophetic. In “Pace, Pace, Pace,” the poetic persona addresses himself directly to the powerful “Signori” responsible for the wars of the time. He starts by saying, “Lords, look how time flies, and how life flees and death is at our shoulders. You are here now, but think of your departure…” He goes on to urge these powerful men to “convert” their “time…spent in causing others pain” to “some honorable pursuit.” Finally, at the end of a poem where he hasn’t repeated any words in a row, he makes the evocative plea for “Peace, peace, peace!” I find this use of repetition haunting–it seemed to demand some special musical treatment, hence my use of melismas at the end.
Enjoy this small sample of the recording submitted by the composer for the Composition Contest jury’s review, which features the Sacred and Profane Chamber Chorus, directed by Rebecca Seeman: